And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. -Hebrews 10:10 (ESV)
But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. -Matthew 7:14 (NIV)
If you’ve ever felt like the black sheep in your group, whether its family or otherwise, I want to share with you what I’ve learned about that over the last three days.
As readers of this blog know, the posts here chronicle my relatively new journey with Christ, and what He teaches me along the way. I hope that my testimony can help even one reader to have hope in their journey.
I write this post after a grueling three-day Buddhist funeral ceremony for my father. The final rites took place with me being present for my family, but not worshiping at either Buddhist shrine (to Buddha or my father). After that ceremony, we followed the monks to the on-site cremation area, where they loaded my father’s casket into the furnace, and I switched it on.
Thoughout this final day, I was keenly aware of some looks and whispers as I stood or sat apart from my family during the rites. Even right down to the final moments at the cremation furnace, my immediate and extended family were weeping and lying prostrate before the furnace while I stood up. A mourner to my left looked at me for a few seconds, then looked away.
By this third day, however, God had forged a backbone for me beneath the full armor of God, so I could stand more and more heat and pressure. And that is a strength He gives us every time we resist the temptation to give in to something that is not God-honoring.
As the black sheep in my family, I’ve always tended to zig when expected to zag, and following Christ was the ultimate defining decision that set me apart, breaking the centuries-long chain of unbelievers in my family.
I mentioned earlier that I was set apart from my family members and every worshiping mourner there. As Christ followers, we are specifically set apart–sanctified–by God for His holy purposes. We are under His protection, with the ultimate shepherd to lead us.
So if you are the black sheep, know that all believers are considered black sheep to the world, under His protection…and the ones who will make it through His narrow gate into Heaven. Rejoice in being different!