Baby, I was born this way!

When Lady GaGa’s song, “Born This Way” came out, everyone made a big huge deal about it because the song has LGBT references within it. So, like we always do, that’s all anyone heard in the song. They didn’t hear another thing it said, not in the least, which means that we all missed an opportunity to hear something that might help us in our own place, where we are right now, and developing into what we are supposed to become. More than anything else, the song is about being different and there are many different forms of differences mentioned within the song. When I hear the song, it talks to me about being different, and that sometimes the differences we have don’t just go away because we want them to or because they might make us uncomfortable. If anything, sometimes the differences we have make us exactly who we are.

The refrain of the song celebrates this:

I’m beautiful in my way
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way

Don’t hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way, born this way

Ooh, there ain’t no other way, baby, I was born this way
Baby, I was born this way
Ooh, there ain’t no other way, baby, I was born this way
I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way

When someone – or something – who is different comes along, how do we respond to it? Do we immediately reject it or brand it as not being of God, or do we invite the idea that maybe that person with a difference has a message for us?

We like conformity in church. We like it when people are just like us, sound like us, look like us, and are like us. In fact, conformity is such a natural expectation, we don’t know what to make of people who aren’t all exactly the same. For example, when a person has been going to church for a certain period of time, it is expected that they dress like everyone else dresses and they pick up typical speech patterns and habits. The Bible translation used by most of the members is the translation one is expected to use, and so on and so forth.

This doesn’t end when we get into ministry. Amidst cries of “We’re not church as usual!” or “We welcome differences!” or “We don’t want the same message,” we find realities that bespeak the opposite. As a minister myself who is “different” in that I don’t preach the types of messages that are typical or minister in quite the same way as most of my contemporaries, I’m not met with a response that celebrates my differences and upholds them as God-given. If anything, I am met with something much darker: ministers who try to blackball me and the work we do, refusals to support or give money, prejudice against the nature of the work and the messages preached, criticism because something isn’t typical, arguments, control, and those who think they could get little ol’ wayward me to conform if I would just become a part of them. I’m not preaching something evil, everything I teach and preach has Scriptural foundations, I’m not running off as heretic of the year. I’ve got great Scriptural education and teaching, and my foundations are solid. The problem isn’t what I teach is false, it’s that it’s true and in a world that conforms us to the false, we don’t know how to take someone who isn’t the way we are used to being.

The ultimate hope is I will feel so ashamed and out of place that I’ll hide myself away and do things the way that everyone else does them. I’ll think who I am is a mistake and that God will un-call me, or call me to do something that everyone else is already doing. The problem is that this isn’t going to happen. Let’s even say that is something I tried to entertain, even on a certain level, which at one point in time, I did do. I’m still going to be me and still going to be what God has called me to be, because like it or not, God’s deposit on my life has been here forever. Yep…I was born this way.

Galatians 1:15: But when God, Who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace… (NASB)

Ephesians 1:3-4: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. (NASB)

Yes, God requires all of us to be socialized, well-rounded individuals who don’t use being different as an excuse to be disobedient or as an excuse to be sinful or defy the ways of God. That’s not what I am saying here, and not the point. The point is, however, that there are those of us who were called, long before we were born and now who are here, to do a job to point out that the conformity and comforts we often see in church are actually the disobediences we claim to be against. It’s easy to gather in a room and think everyone who is in there is right if no one ever questions or challenges that notion. It’s easy to stay disobedient, to stay comfortable, and to stay in error when nobody who is different is ever let in.

God doesn’t make mistakes and no matter what someone is doing or where someone is at, they are still created in His image. That means those who are different are beautiful in their way, because God put differences within us, on purpose, to get our attention and do different things. Instead of constantly putting down different ministers and ministries, encouraging them to hide themselves, maybe it’s time to look at the track they are on and realize there are things right about that track that conformity doesn’t afford us.

Try to change me if you must; we just won’t remain friends. I pray that any minister with a truly different message will grab ahold of the revelation that God made you different on purpose. No reason to hide, no reason to sit back, but you should embrace – and love – what God is doing in you. Don’t just keep doing it for God, although that is definitely reason enough. Keep going for yourself, too. No matter what our title or how we do it, we are born for one thing, and that is to serve the Lord. Serve the Lord as you have been called, even if it’s different.

© 2016 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.

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