Monday, November 05, 2007

Living Differently

One of the difficult responsibilities that we face as Christians is living in the world without being part of the world. It is difficult because, for what ever reason, the world is so attractive to us. We long to be like our friends and have the stuff that we see advertised on TV. We don’t want to be different. We want to be the same as everyone else, and do it with the blessings of God. Yet God wants us to be different for the world. Consider the words of Dave Stone:
“Nowadays, if you’re sold out for Christ you probably won’t have to worry about the President throwing you into a blazing fire. But the committed Christian can expect to take some heat from a boss who expects you to be unethical, or the fiancee who tries to pressure you into being sexually active with the line, After all. we’ll be married soon...Most of us would rather fit in, than stand out. Christ is expecting us to stand our so that people can see the difference.” (I'd Rather See A Sermon, pp. 23, 24)

Doesn’t this sound like Peter wrote?
11 Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and exiles to keep away from fleshly desires that do battle against the soul, 12 and maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears. (1 Peter 2:11-12, NET)

We get so caught up trying to fit into this world because the things of this world seem so real to us. This world is so real because it is right here for us to see, touch and feel. This world is right at our fingertips. The same cannot be said about God’s blessings. Though they are abundant and constant, so often they seem to be off in the distant future in a different place. It is hard to follow the wisdom of God when it seems to go against the wisdom of this world. Too often God seems to make no sense to us when compared to the advice we get from our friends.

No matter what we desire God wants us to live differently from the world. We may not see the compromise in watching certain movies, with the jokes that we tell, or even the clothes that we wear, but God does. This is what God thinks when we try to live like the world.
4 Adulterers, do you not know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? So whoever decides to be the world's friend makes himself God's enemy. 5 Or do you think the scripture means nothing when it says, "The spirit that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning"? 6 But he gives greater grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble." (James 4: 4-6; NET)

We cannot desire the things of this world and the things of God at the same time. God is very exclusive when it comes to our relationship with Him. God wants us 24/7. He will not tolerate us giving Him Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. God wants it all, and more than that God deserves it all.

Take a look at the words the James used when he talked about people who wanted both God and the world. James calls such people adulterers and enemies of God. Those are not nice things to be, but that is what we allow ourselves to become when we desire to be like this world in our speech, actions, dreams, appearance, and purpose. God wants us to be different. Are you going to be exclusive in your relationship with God?

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