“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”-John 14:15
It’s that simple and that hard.
There used to be a part of me that longed to stand out, it made sense in my mind, to make a difference, you actually have to be different.
My mom always taught me to stand up for the faith, to proudly quote Romans 1:16.
Growing up, I learned quickly that being different wasn’t as glamorous as I had imagined.
I learned being different meant looking up and realizing your shorts are freakishly long compared to the other girls’ and feeling homely. Being different meant being called a prude when you wouldn’t sit down to play spin the bottle with your friends and being told that you needed to “lighten up”. Being different meant no longer being invited to tag along with people because they knew you wouldn’t go along with everything. Being different meant your friend yelling in your face that you wouldn’t understand anything because you’re “sheltered”.
Being different was isolating, being different was painful, and in the end, being different didn’t seem worth it.
So, finally, I traded my modest clothing for immodest clothing that matched what others were wearing, and while I still didn’t participate in some of the things my friends did, I kept my mouth shut. Sometimes I slunk away like a beaten dog when no one was looking so I wouldn’t be pulled in, all I was missing was a tail tucked between my legs in defeat.
For someone who quoted Romans 12 so much, I was anything but transformed, I was conformed.
I wasn’t a Christian back then, but I thought I was.
If I could go back and spend time with my former self, I would ask her, “What makes you different than the world? What sets you apart?”
Former Grace probably would have paused to think, feeling defensive at such a question, “Jesus is in my heart. I live for Him. That’s what sets me apart.”
“Let me ask you something, If you dress like the world, talk like the world, act like the world, sin like the world, and live like the world, how are you different than the world? Maybe you are just the world. Start paying attention to all those verses you memorize and quote every week.”
My former self and I wouldn’t get along very well, but my point remains:
We are supposed to be different. YOU are supposed to be different.
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”-Titus 2:11-15
Peculiar, often people take this word and think of “weird” or “strange” however, it’s the Greek word “periousios” which means a people selected by God, a possession.
If we are God’s children, why aren’t we acting like it?
We are called to be righteous and godly in our lives, to be zealous, passionate about good works, and to not let anyone look down on us for that, because this is what we were made to do.
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”-Romans 6:1-4
We should not want to be like the world and live in sin.
We should not want to be worldly.
We need to start asking ourselves is there the world in my browser history? Is the world in the words I speak with my friends? Is the world in my actions with my significant other when no one is watching? Is the world in the clothes I wear outside of worship? Is the world in my thoughts?
We should be devastated if the answer to any of these is anything short of an adamant “no”, and we should immediately strive to change.
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”-1 Corinthians 6:20
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”-1 Corinthians 10:31
Back then, I wouldn’t admit it to even myself, but the glory of God was the last thing on my mind.
At the time, I just wanted to fit in, to have friends, to not sit alone at lunch time at co-op.
I realized I had to give all of it up when I became a Christian and was baptized for the remission of my sins.
I’m no longer ill with FOMO (the fear of missing out) because I’ve learned that I’m not missing out on much.
I look at other kids living the life that is idolized and all I see is the sad emptiness, I’m glad to not be like that, and I want everyone to be able to tell by one conversation or even one glance at me that I’m not like that.
Why would we ever want to fit in with something as dark as the world?
Why would we ever want to pass as one of them?
To make a difference, you actually have to be different.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”-Matthew 5:13-16
You have the choice today to live for God or for yourself, to be set apart or to be like everyone else on the wide path (Matthew 7:13).
You weren’t made to fit in, dear reader. You were made to glorify God, to be a light, and to be salt.
Let’s live for God like we were made to.