Dare to Be Different
By David Berg
A world-famous dropout named Jesus, while exhorting His disciples to drop out with Him, warned them that they would be as sheep in the midst of wolves (Matthew 10:16). "If ye were of the system [the world]," He said, "the system would love its own. But ye are not of the system, therefore the system hateth you" (John 15:19). Dare to be different, He was saying, venture to vary from the norm which the world has established, and they will oppose you for daring to challenge their authority to tell you what they themselves have decided is right and wrong.
Just you dare to be so bold as to think, act, live, or teach differently from the vast so-called silent majority of the supposedly average and normal, and you will soon see them not so silent, and you will hear them too, when someone dares to say and prove that their way of life is not the only way.
History has proven time and again in every age that the majority are often wrong, and that, as Jesus said, "Broad is the way and wide is the gate that leadeth unto destruction, and many there be that go in thereat: but narrow is the way and strait is the gate that leadeth unto life eternal, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:13-14). But it seems, as the famous saying goes, that about the only thing we ever learn from history is that we never learn from history! Therefore these sordid chapters of history continue to repeat themselves.
When any courageous iconoclast becomes so presumptuous as to dare to smash the idols of the generally accepted and practiced behavior of this vast majority who justify themselves by comparing themselves with themselves--if some brave pioneer of the spirit or of science is so foolhardy as to even suggest that this vast and unsilent majority of accepted society could possibly be wrong on some things, he is generally hooted down, denounced, or persecuted as a departurist, and even condemned as a criminal, hanged as a heretic, or crucified as a menace to society!
Darkness cannot stand the light, and wrong cannot bear the right, and the lie cannot tolerate the truth, and those that are bound bitterly resent the freedom of the free. Because by these they are exposed for their sins of darkness, evil, deception, greed, and the enslavement of the exploited, they must, therefore, furiously endeavor to smother the light, say that wrong is right, and attempt to shout down and drown out the voice of truth. As the lawyer said to the hippie in "Easy Rider," they can't stand being reminded that they're slaves of the chains of conformity forged by their own hands!
When Noah built a boat on dry land and said there was going to be a flood while it had never even rained before, he was laughed at by the vast unsilent majority who were later to drown in that very same flood, while he and his own family survived (Genesis 6-7). When childless Abraham, at the age of 100, claimed he was going to become the father of many nations and his seed as the sands of the sea, his own wife laughed him to scorn. But he was soon to laugh last, because she herself, in her nineties, bore him Isaac, the forefather of the world's millions of Jews, and her handmaiden, Hagar, bore him Ishmael, forefather of the world's millions of Arabs--twelve tribes of Israel and twelve nations of Arabs remaining to this day (Genesis 16-18).
When a lowly shepherd from lonely Sinai claimed he was going to deliver six million Jewish slaves single-handedly from the clutches of their all-powerful Egyptian captors, Moses' own people made fun of him. But it was he who later had the fun as he led them miraculously through the Red Sea on dry ground (Exodus 4, 14). The people of Jericho jeered when Joshua jogged his Jews seven times around their impregnable walls, but it was really a blast on those tiny trumpets when those walls came tumbling down (Joshua 6:1-20). The Midianite army of thousands must have really cracked up when most of Gideon's army split and he was only left with three hundred men, but it was the Midianites' turn to split when his paltry party pelted them with pottery in the middle of the night (Judges 7).
The mighty lords of the conquering Philistines sneered when Samson, the proverbial Jewish strong man, stood blind before them as their captive, but when he pushed the pillars of their temple apart, it was his turn to snicker as he slew more of his enemies with his death than his life (Judges 16:21-30). The giant Goliath ridiculed the little lad with the slingshot, but when David cut loose with just one honest bit of rock, the Philistine phony fell flat his face and the children of God danced for joy (1 Samuel 17). The prophets who predicted the dooms of their dominant dominions of old were derided as daft and demented, but when each fell in its time according to their rhyme, they were no longer found fanatically funny!
When Jesus told the Pharisees that their proud temple would be pulled down (Matthew 24:1-2), they denounced Him in derision. But forty years later when the Romans burned it to the ground, and pulled it stone from stone to get at the melted gold in the cracks, it wasn't so funny anymore. When the apostles prophesied the appalling fall of the Roman Empire, Nero exiled them, beheaded, crucified, burned, and fed them to the lions, but he himself died a perverted, raving maniac, and Rome burned and her empire eventually departed, and her remains were joyously taken over by the Christians themselves.
The martyrs were vilified, pilloried, tortured, torn apart and sawn asunder by the pagans who attempted to stamp out their pitiful tiny minority. But soon the heathen themselves were conquered by the truth, love, and peace of these berated bands of beautiful people. Then when Christendom itself became the next powerful system, churchianity tried to suffocate the findings of men of science and stifle the voices of freedom, but could not prevail against the new enlightenment and the dawn of the Renaissance of learning.
When the disillusioned idealistic young son of a wealthy Florentine merchant decided to forsake all, evade the draft, leave home and family, and live communally in an old deserted chapel in poverty as a beggar with his followers, he was cursed and beaten by his father, wept over by his mother, rebuked by his friends, condemned by his own church, and spurned by society. But Saint Francis of Assisi's humble love, truth, honesty, and passion for peace, poverty, and the poor soon won his pitiful people the approval of the pope and unfolded the far-flung Franciscan Fathers of the future.
History is full of those who dared to challenge their system, dared to be different, dared to buck the tide, dared to shock their generation, or defy their science, or challenge their morals, or champion an unpopular cause, or do something beyond the call of duty: discoverers, inventors, explorers, history-makers, misfits; radical, heretical, revolutionary, above or below the norm, but certainly none of them indifferent!
All these dreamers, who envisioned doing things that nobody else had ever done before, who thought differently, acted differently, and did differently than their predecessors, were often thought to have a few screws loose, bats in the belfry, or to be just a little off their rockers, compared to the rest of the people--the silent majority, who have never made a sound in history, never made a dent in progress, never made a mark, never made any impression, so you never knew they ever existed.
Beaten paths are for beaten men! Burning the candle at both ends may look crazy, but it sure gives a better light. You may wear out fast, but you'll sure generate a lot of heat! You live in fame, and die in flame, but nothing can stop you. They're never able to put it out of the memory of mankind--that here was a man who stood out from the rest, outstanding for his achievement. He dared to be different, and did what they told him not to, or they said couldn't be done, because he thought it ought to be, should be--and he could do it, no matter what anybody said--and he did it, by the grace of God--and the world heard about him. Praise God!
And when this life is over, and the angels beckon you, the world will remember you. If what you did was right, God will never forget it. You'll shine as the stars forever (Daniel 12:3). "Well done, thou good and faithful servant--enter thou into the joy of thy Lord"--you and all the rest who dared to be "fools for Christ's sake!" (Matthew 25:21; 1 Corinthians 4:10).
THE TWO PATHS
O'er uncharted sea
To their hearts' desire
Do men of faith set sail,
While the beaten men
Walk with fearful hearts
Along life's beaten trail.
The men of faith will challenge
Both men and Satan's wrath,
But the beaten men will compromise
And walk the beaten path.
Beaten roads are for beaten men,
As they walk with measured tread;
With tuneless souls they move along
To dwell among the dead.
But men of faith climb unscaled walls,
And sail uncharted sea.
They dare to cross convention's bounds
To set the captives free.
--Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542)