Sermon: Predestined to be Different


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Predestined to be Different

1 Peter 1:17-23
1:17 If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile.
1:18 You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold,
1:19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.
1:20 He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake.
1:21 Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.
1:22 Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart.
1:23 You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

This is an odd sort of experience for me here today, as I have not been in Presbyterian churches often in my life. My wife Jean and I were married in a Presbyterian church down in Poteau, Oklahoma. The Presbyterian minister at our wedding was the Reverend Lavender, and, after I told him we were going become Methodists after the wedding, he clued me in on the difference between Methodists and Presbyterian.

“It’s all in the Lord’s Prayer. Those English Methodists are hung up on property, but a Scottish Presbyterian would rather have his debts forgiven than his trespasses any day.”

This is one of those little differences that we like to laugh at, and we feel comfortable about it because it is so tiny. However, in our American culture, we don’t really like to acknowledge there any are real differences between us.
This is dangerous because it is so obviously a lie, but we try to live as if it were true. We are to love others not because they are like us or because they are just as good us, but because Jesus commanded us to love one another.

One of the ways we ignore differences is by claiming there is no difference between men and women. I realize this is a dangerous topic, and even as I say this, I fancy I see eyebrows slanting upward and heat rising from collars, and maybe I won’t have to imagine that for much longer. But gosh-darn it, there is a difference. I’ve seen all three of my daughters born, and I will go out on a limb and say that I don’t believe a man in the world could give birth.
We laugh at that, or at least I hope we are laughing at this point. However, having witnessed the hot water the President of Harvard is still in, we all realize that talking about gender differences is a ticklish subject.

We are living at a time when, on one hand, we say we value diversity, but on the other there is a taboo with regard to pointing out differences. This has to fall under someone’s definition of insanity.

One of the topics with which we deal as Christians here in the State of Kansas is the Theory of Evolution. I am comfortable with the Theory and find no contradiction between what I understand it to be and my beliefs as a Christian.

The idea behind evolution is that mutations occur in genes which create differences in offspring. Some of these differences lead to a greater chance of survival, some to a lesser chance of survival, and some make no difference to survival at all. When breeding populations accrue sufficient differences, new species arise.

Having differences is a natural thing.

As I was writing this sermon, I looked out my window and saw a robin sitting on a limb. A robin is a small bird with a pleasant song, but it isn’t as impressive as, say, a bald eagle.

Is it wrong to observe that a robin is not a bald eagle? In our human way of looking at things, we might note that a bald eagle could easilty kill and eat a robin, and we might note that we found the bald eagle to be so majestic that we chose it to be the symbol of our country. Consequently, we might think it is a great insult to note that a robin is not a bald eagle.

Yet the bald eagle is not present in such numbers that I can look out the window and see one, and, at one time, we were worried that there might not be anymore bald eagles at all. In terms of a species being successful, man’s point of view is not worth all that much.

We in the various denominations of Christ’s Church have our differences to be sure. Today, for instance, I could choose to talk about the difference between Calvinism and Arminianism, which is one point of historical disagreement between Presbyterians and Methodists, however that would require that I actually understood either of those doctrines.

Let me just say that differences exist. Some of the differences are important, some of them are not, but it is not my aim today to enumerate them. My aim is to state the way I believe we should think about our differences.

One way of dealing with differences has been to stop talking about them. If there is a topic on which we disagree, we simply say that no position is going to be taken upon this topic. The argument is finished before it is started then. That’s why I don’t know much about Arminianism and why you might not know much about Calvinism.

Sometimes our differences are actually discussed, and some compromise position is reached and put in such nuanced, legalistic language than no one can understand what is being said, much less disagree with it.

The problem with this approach is that there is hardly any topic that all churches agree upon. Eventually we get to a point where there is no difference between us because none of us believes anything. If a church doesn’t believe anything, then why in the hell should I want to be a member?
As was observed to the Church of Laodecia in the Book of Revelation, “You are neither hot nor cold so I will spew thee out of my mouth?”

If we don’t have disagreements, that means we don’t care, and a church that doesn’t care isn’t worth belonging to.

We might think that’s okay because we are at peace, but Jesus did not come to bring peace. He said that he would divide families. In the 10th Chapter of Matthew, Jesus said:

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.”

On the other hand, as Christians, we should have unity. We are the body of Christ. In the first chapter of the book of 1st Corinthians, Paul is dealing with the problems of a divided church, and asks the question, “Is Christ divided?”

The answer should be “no,” yet there are fragments of Christ everywhere. There was the Great Schism between Rome and the East, then there was the Protestant Reformation, and since then, the various Protestant factions shatter as easily as the glass from a Christmas ornament. Some of the tiniest little shards are the ones yelling the loudest that the rest is going to hell.

It seems that I’ve gotten myself into a corner. We must be different, but we can’t be divided. Isn’t this a contradiction?


There are examples of organizations wherein there are often strong disagreements, but unity is maintained. Those organizations are called families. The same thing holds them together which will hold us together, blood and love.

In the case of Christianity, the blood and love come from Christ.
Hi Okie, I hate to sound like a broken record, but...another nice post, er, sermon. :)

Excellent point about not ignoring our differences as Christians yet embracing each other as the family of Christ. Blood and love, yes, that's it in a nutshell. So much like a family--you can choose your friends but you can't choose your relatives. We are different and while I hate to see those differences dividing us, it also is a way for people to find their own home in Christ when we are very diverse in our understanding of the Word. I've been thinking of it sort of as different body parts, the leg is not the eye is not the hand, yet all are part of one Body. 'course in that analogy we'd be arguing over who's the head, who's the heart, who's the appendix...sigh. I figure that somehow between all of us we get it right on average.

lunamoth said:
Hi Okie, I hate to sound like a broken record, but...another nice post, er, sermon. :)

'course in that analogy we'd be arguing over who's the head, who's the heart, who's the appendix...sigh. I figure that somehow between all of us we get it right on average.


I am the appendix of Christ. I like that.