Standing out from the crowd is something most people avoid. They’d rather blend in as if they weren’t even there. As Christians however, we are exhorted to “stand out” from the crowd so others can see the difference between those who live godly lives and those who don’t.
I was on a break at work the other day and a couple guys walked in and started talking about chasing women. Well, they used different wording, and their intentions were obviously carnal. After talking this way for several minutes they noticed me standing a few yards away. One of them laughed and asked,”You aren’t one of those from the local church, are you?” To which I smiled. The person addressing me then said to his partner, “If so he’d be thinking, ‘gosh how can they talk like that.’” To which I replied, “I’ve been there and done that in my earlier days — I live for God now.” They stopped talking about finding loose women.
Was I offended? Not in the least. Nothing can shock me these days, and I don’t have ‘virgin ears’ that cringe every time I hear something out of line with God’s Word. I’m not the type of person who has to hide from evil so I don’t see it or hear it. God made me able to stand anywhere in any situation so I can indeed serve wherever he sends me. While I don’t speak of the things they do, I am able to hear it without running for cover lest I be tempted myself or because I feel I’m too righteous to hear that kind of thing. Rubbish.
The purpose of this post is to convey the fact that Christians are supposed to stand out from non-Christians in this world, wherever we are, whatever we are doing. If people can’t see a difference in us, where’s the power in what we offer? If we ourselves are not living godly lives, where is the incentive for others to? If God hasn’t changed our lives, our words, our deeds, then how effective can our witness be to others?
What do you do differently now that you’re a Christian? Are you living the lifestyle God would have you live? Can people tell by what you do and say that you are God’s property and you represent him in this world? Or are you a coward, a ‘closet Christian’ who lives a very pure life but doesn’t do anything to offer the gospel of Christ to others?
I’ve met many a person who tells me they are Christian but they “don’t wear their faith on their sleeve, only in their heart.” Really? If by this they mean they don’t let others know they believe in Jesus, how is that ‘standing out?’ Is that how you make Christ available to others? Let’s see what the Word says about that.
I Peter 3:15,16 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good behavior in Christ.
Are you ready — and willing — to give an answer to others who ask you the reason of the hope you have in Christ? Oh, it seems you must appear “different” to those who would ask, or why would they even be asking? I Peter 3:15 expects you to be different than non believers in your words and deeds so that people see a difference and ask you about it.
Here’s another verse to consider.
I Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:
Can you believe what God is saying in these verses through Peter? “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation!” My God how privileged is that? What a high calling? It’s a calling we need to live up to and God’s given us the power to do it though the gift of the new birth.
Because of our high calling and our privileged position in Christ, God says we “should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Take the bushel off of the lamp, my brother and sisters in Christ!
You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost its savor, how shall it be salted? it is thereafter good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a lamp, and put it under a bushel, but on a lamp stand; and it gives light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Are you letting your light ‘so shine’ before men that they see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven? If not, it’s time to get that bushel off!
Now before I get a bunch of emails about our freedom in Christ and suggestions that I’m “holier than thou” let me say this. I agree with Paul when he said…
I Corinthians 6;12 Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is helpful. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not allow anything to control me.
In the grace administration in which we live, the age of the church of God of which Christ is the head, we are not under Moses’ law but we are under the law of love. Everything is permissible to me, but the question is always, “Who is in control.”
Does letting my light “so shine” mean I cannot have a drink or two? Does it mean I can’t go to a movie that has violence in it? Does it mean I cannot have a cigar? The answer may be yes or no, depending on “who is in control.” If I get drunk, I’m no longer in control. If I find myself wanting to live out some of the violence I’ve seen in movies, we have a problem.. Some of you will say subjecting myself to any of these things leads to being “out of control,” but consider this: breathing leads to everything but I’m not going to stop breathing. Some things affect some people differently than other people and that’s why there are no blanket ‘rules’ for Christians to follow regarding such things.
“Self-imposed worship” is different than true worship.
Therefore if you be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are you subject to ordinances,
(Touch not; taste not; handle not;
Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in self-imposed worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any value to the indulgence of the flesh.
If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory.
Those of you who want to understand more of what I’m talking about are invited to read Romans chapter 14. We are not to judge one another in ‘disputable’ things, but leave it up to God to judge. We don’t divide ourselves from one another in Christ because of such things.
However, if I’m not in control, I’m not a good example to others and my light is ‘under a bushel.” Staying in control, I can do anything I want unless it’s specifically stated as sin in the Bible (like adultery, theft, murder, etc.). People see my lifestyle and see it’s absent of anything truly sinful, like the things I just listed, but that I also enjoy life and partake of things I like in moderation without it affecting anything negatively.
So what do people see that’s different in me? Control. Control is a big thing. I’ve experience other people saying, “He’s Christian but he takes a drink.” Perhaps some wanted to put me in a nice religious box to tell me what I should or should not be doing from their carnal points of view. But others saw the freedom I have in Christ and that I don’t abuse that freedom. I don’t get drunk. I stay “in control” and others see to that they don’t have to live a miserly life of cutting out paper disciples for fun, but can enjoy life, much as the way they have been, but letting the Lord lead their lives.
We had a big barbecue last month and three people make it a point to comment to me about it individually. One said, “see it works — you can have a great time without people getting drunk and sloppy.” Another said, “It’s great to have fun without everyone getting crazy.” The third said something similar to the first, “It works — fun without shame.”
That’s what I mean by ‘standing out’ — being different than the world for sake of Christ because we are his and we want to attract others to Christ.
Don’t forget the record of when the Pharisees accused Jesus of being a “wine bibber” with the “publicans and sinners.” A ‘wine bibber’ is, in today’s terminology, a ‘drunk.’ But Jesus didn’t get drunk. Jesus also didn’t deny that he drank with those who got drunk — he was always in control of himself. He hung around with prostitutes and thieves, but he didn’t steal anything and he didn’t use prostitutes. His answer to the Pharisees was, “They who are well don’t need a physician.” Let that be our attitude as well.
Stand out from the crowd — stay in control of your life and be a good witness of our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth. Be free in Christ but don’t let your freedom be a stumbling block for others and don’t use your freedom to satisfy your own lusts.