Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves (Genesis 3:7, NIV)
I was flying back to Buffalo some months ago when I ran into a guy in an airport in another city (I think Cincinnati, but I'm not totally sure). He was from our church, but we had never really met. We had a great conversation, and the crux of the conversation had to do with his desire to serve and be used by God. The problem, however, had to do with the fact that he couldn't do alot of the upfront service opportunities - he was a "behind the scenes" guy. He didn't feel equipped or ready or capable. The struggle that he faced was sorting out the difference between prominence and significance.
Being different in our giftings and make-up is ok. God designed us, and He intends to use us in the way He made us. (Let me pause here to say that embracing sinful habits and desires and pawning them off as "God made me to be sarcastic, or violent, or sex-crazed, blah, blah, blah is not what I am referring to here). Being different is exactly what God wants from people that follow after Him..........in fact, note that God tells Israel of the Old Testament and the Church of the New Testament that He wants them to be a uniquely different brand of people (Dueteronomy 14:1-2; 1 Peter 2:9; Titus 2:14). Unfortunately, the Garden of Eden was a precursor of things to come when sin gets involved in this process of being different.
When Adam and Eve sinned, notice that they realized then that they were naked, and they covered themselves. What did they cover? They covered what was different about them (you can do the math here). Difference was ok when sin was not around, but now that sin was present it seems that difference became something to be ashamed of. With a sin mangled perspective on difference, our judgment and perspective gets cloudy as to what is good, or beautiful, or noteworthy. Think about it......................the women considered beautiful in the dark ages are not the same images of beauty for women that are held today. Back in the day, beauty was equal to thicker bodies (not skinny ones), large noses (not surgically altered ones), and nearly transparent, pale skin (not the type skin that looks like you bathed in pennies). Have you seen some of the paintings? Then you can attest.
The struggle with this is that the idea of beauty, etc. is always changing. Plus, it is usually those trying to be "beautiful" or "smart", etc. that are doing the comparisons and trying to narrow the field. Not wise (note 2 Corinthians 10:12). Again, it is the struggle to gain prominence...................not realizing that prominence does not categorically mean significance. It is the American Idol syndrome in our culture........do anything to stand out (insert William Hung, Big Bird Lady, Cat girl, etc.). Standing out is the goal (prominence), but significance (which is really what is desired) is lost.
As I was reminded by reading a book recently by Ed Gungor, what if small is significant too? We lose sight of that because of our culture that embraces big and popular and talented. Unfortunately, in our quest to become big and popular and talented, we descend into sameness.......covering our differences........and embrace wrong ideas of who God designed us to be. Big or small................God is paying attention (read Psalm 115:12-13).
So this week, cooperate with God and allow Him to use you - the real you - to be an instrument with which He can play His kingdom melody for all to hear.
You are different..................Good. That's the way it is supposed to be.