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“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,        I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)

At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where the famous ‘Indy 500’ is held each May, there is permanent seating for more than 257,000 people and additional infield seating that raises capacity to approximately 400,000. When you think about this venue being filled, consider that there are no two persons who have ever attended there who are alike. Indeed, there are no two people in history who have been exactly the same. Our Creator has made us to be one of kind. We’re the crowning beauty, the highest of everything God made; the first and the best of His creatures (James 1:18). That alone should make us feel really special. When Oliver Wendell Holmes was in his 80th year, a friend greeted him and asked, “How are you?” “I’m fine,” said Holmes, “the house I live in is tottering and crumbling, but Oliver Wendell Holmes is fine, thank you.” In this materialistic age when most of us spend a great deal of time trying to be like everyone else – we often forget that the real, enduring part of us that makes us unique is fixed more on our spirit than our physicality.

Throughout the Bible, we learn the stories of very unique individuals. We discover people such as King David – a man of great spiritual depth and understanding, yet also one of fiery human passion and imperfection. He was one of a kind who came to be remembered as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). In God’s Holy Word you can also meet Saul of Tarsus who was dedicated to persecuting the early followers of Jesus. Ironically, Paul (as He is later known) becomes one of the faithful after an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus following His resurrection. The Lord chose Paul to proclaim His name to both Gentiles and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15) and to speak against the conformity of this world (Romans 12:2). The New Testament would be significantly shorter, if it was not for his transformation to become one of a kind. In the scriptures are stories too of others who are lesser known. There you will find a woman who anointed Jesus by pouring expensive perfume over His head (Matthew 26:7).  After a disciple chastened her for wasting it, saying it could have been sold to help the poor – Jesus said, “wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Matthew 26:13).  She was one of a kind, and Jesus said she would never be forgotten.

It’s that time of year when graduates will be hearing all kinds of speeches from famous and accomplished persons.  Most graduates are interested in hearing some form of inspirational message, but many speakers will fail to deliver and focus on their own agenda.  The best of them will challenge the alumni to grow into their own uniqueness and exercise their God-given abilities to make the world a better place. Perhaps someone will quote Charles Spurgeon who said, “Character is always lost when a high ideal is sacrificed on the altar of conformity and popularity.” Maybe a few will dare to cite references of faith by stating: “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well . . .” (Romans 12:6) and “each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). While these words specify spiritual gifts, they can also provide wise-counsel that we should sensibly utilize all of the talents with which God has blessed us.

So many unique individuals will come and go during the course of one’s lifetime: sports figures, actors, politicians and explorers, some of whom went to the moon and back. The ones who gained notoriety did so because of their uniqueness. Someone said that in life we become either an imitator or an innovator.  Persons who stand out are not those who cater to conformity, but rather it is the person who allows their distinctiveness to shine who will be remembered. Followers of the Christian faith come to understand that we will truly be happy only when we give ourselves the freedom to express our uniqueness as a contribution to God’s plan. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).  God made you for glory and excellence, so He could manifest His beauty, grace, and righteousness through you. Go forth then and celebrate that you are unique. In fact, you will be just what He intended when you allow yourself to become one of a kind.

REFLECTION: Do you remember certain periods of your life that you felt a sense of enforced conformity? In what ways can you challenge yourself and those you love to practice their uniqueness for God?


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