My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.

John 17:15-18


Rick Ezell relates a story from C.E. Montague’s novel, Rough Justice, in a sermon he preached in 2014. (

A little boy named Bron went to church for the first time with his governess. He carefully watched every part of the service. The preacher climbed into the high pulpit and Bron heard him tell some terrible news. It was about a brave and kind man who was nailed to a cross and terribly hurt. Although it happened long ago, this man still feels dreadful pain because something was not done that he wants them all to do.

Little Bron thinks that the preacher told this story because there are a lot of people there who will do something about it. Bron can hardly wait to see what the first move will be in righting this injustice. But nothing happened. He sits quietly, thinking that someone will do something after the service. He begins to weep, but nobody else seems at all upset. The people walk away as if they had not heard the terrible news, as if nothing had happened.

As Bron leaves the church, he is trembling. His governess looks at him and says, “Bron, don’t take it to heart. Someone will think you are different.”

What was so different? He was alive and sensitive in his spirit. He showed emotion. He listened to what was going on in God’s house – really hearing and responding. He took Jesus Christ seriously.

The sermon at my church a couple of Sundays ago impacted me deeply as well. Like Little Bron in the story above, I could not keep myself from weeping when the message reminded me of painful things in my past.

And then I thought about others who are considered different – different in another sense. Those who don’t fit in. Those considered strange by some. Those who are unusual when compared to others.

Yes, we are set apart. But when we believe in Jesus we belong to God our Father. We are his children. … we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10)