People in society today like to do things that make them stand out in the crowd.
They might do it by the clothes they wear.
They might do it by the hairstyle they wear.
A lot of people in recent times have done it by having tattoos or piercings.
Many do it because they want to stand out from the crowd.
They want to be or look different.
Sometimes they do it to be what we call counter-culture.
They like to be known for being different to everyone else in society.
The problem is that soon it creates a fashion and then everyone starts doing it and you’re no longer different to anyone and you have to look for something else to make a statement that you’re different.
Jesus stood out in the crowd too – he was very different.
In fact Jesus made such a difference that we distinguish dating as “before Christ” and “in the year of our Lord” – BC and AD.
Jesus liked to rock the boat and do things that went against the normal culture of his day.
He talked with people everyone else ignored.
He ate meals with people that nobody else liked.
He was different and it made him stand out in the crowd.
Charlie, Amber and Lily, you have done something that has made you stand out in the crowd of your friends.
You have done something very different to your peer group.
You have honoured your Baptism vow to continue to learn about the Christian faith and for the past year or so you have stayed behind at school and learnt about the church and the Christian faith.
You didn’t have to do it.
Maybe your parents suggested it but at the end of the day it was your choice to do so.
While your friends went home – turned on the TV, checked out Facebook, Twitter or whatever else they do on the internet and mobile phones these days – you listened to me teach you about things like the Ten Commandments – the Apostles’ Creed – Baptism, Holy Communion – the Lord’s Prayer and the Office of the Keys.
And now, as you finish your studies with me, Jesus is sending you out into the world and he asks you to continue to be different.
He asks you to live lives that are going to make you stand out in the crowd.
Lives that are going to make people even think you’re a little bit weird.
Let’s have a look at what Jesus says that’s really going to make you different and stand out from the crowd.
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
Talk about different – Love your enemies!
That’s not what everyone else is doing.
That’s not the advice that your friends and society are telling you.
If they’re your enemy then you should do everything to make sure they have bad things happen to them.
Gossip about them.
Tell your friends that they have to be their enemies also.
Laugh when bad things happen to them.
Tell lies about them.
Can you imagine how different you would be if while all your friends at school are picking on someone that you point out that what they are doing is wrong!
That’s what Jesus did.
Jesus loved everyone.
He said that anyone can love their friends – be different – love your enemies.
Or what about when someone hurts you?
What should you do to be different?
Jesus says: If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat even give them your shirt.
Jesus is saying, if someone hits you then don’t hit back, but ask them if they want to hit you again!
Now that’s just silly isn’t it?
Or if someone steals something from you ask them if they need anything else.
That sounds very different.
Anyone can hit someone back.
That’s the easy thing to do.
Jesus wants you to be different and not hurt people back.
Even Jesus when they were nailing his hands to the cross cried out “forgive them Father, they don’t know what they are doing”.
Could you imagine how different you would be if you loved someone who hurt you.
When you learnt the 10 Commandments there was also 2 parts to them – what you must NOT do – and what you MUST do.
So in the Commandment – you shall not kill – it said you should NOT hurt your neighbour in any way but you are to help them in all their physical needs.
Or the eighth commandment – not only should we not lie about our neighbour but we must speak well about them and explain their actions in the kindest way.
You also learnt about The Apostles’ Creed.
That’s where we confess to everyone that we believe in Jesus.
Do you think believing in Jesus is going to make you popular?
Probably not – but it will make you different.
You shared with me that even though Luther College is a Christian school that most of your classmates don’t believe in God.
What brave people you are that you didn’t listen to what we call “peer group pressure”.
It’s not cool to be a Christian today but it’s not about being cool.
The Apostles’ Creed says why we believe in Jesus – I believe in the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
Being a Christian is not about being good people – it’s about believing that when I die I will live forever in Heaven because Jesus died for my sins.
Being a Christian today and believing in Jesus is being different.
Charlie, Amber and Lily.
Do not underestimate what you are doing today.
Jenny and Peter, Rick and Ruby, Chris and Lara.
Do not underestimate what your children are doing today.
What you are doing today is very different.
When you were baptised you had really no say.
You were only infants and were brought along by your parents.
This is your choice and it is different to what the world is teaching you to do.
The world today believes it doesn’t need God in their life.
You’re saying “we do need him in our life”.
And so I want to encourage you – don’t let this be the end of your involvement and learning.
You’re all part of our Head 2 Heart and youth program.
The church needs you to keep learning and keep being involved in the church.
If you want to be different – if you want to stand out in the world – keep doing what you’re doing.
You may get teased – you may get laughed at – but remember – that’s also what happened to Jesus – so you’re amongst very special people.
Jesus even said that the world may hate you because of me – but remember it hated me first.
Don’t let that worry you.
Just remember what believing in Jesus means.
It means that you don’t have to worry about anything because God is looking after you especially that your home in heaven is 100% guaranteed.