Monday, August 30, 2021

Be Different



It is hard to be different and to stand out from those around you. 

I find it easy to go with the flow and to allow myself to be influenced by the very same things that influence the rest of the world. It takes intention and work to go against the current of the culture.

This is exactly what we need to do.

It is essential for people who follow Jesus to live differently from the world. 

The apostle Paul wrote:
Don’t participate in the things these people do. For though your hearts were once full of darkness, now you are full of light from the Lord, and your behavior should show it! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true (Ephesians 5:7-9; NLT).
Christians are a changed people. We no longer participate in the same activities that the world does. These are activities that continue bring corruption and sin into God’s good creation. This is why it is crucial for us to live lives of faith.

 How do we do this? 

How do we prevent ourselves from being influenced by the culture in which we live? 

I believe the writer of Hebrews have provided us with some answers to these questions:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven (Hebrews 12:1-2; NLT).
In these two verses we find four actions we must do if we are going to live differently from the world.

First we must remember the witnesses
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith...

Hebrews 11 is filled with great examples of faith, men and women who trusted God through the ups and downs of life. The writer of Hebrews wanted people be encouraged by these examples. Abraham, Moses, Ruth, David, Esther, Daniel, and the Apostles give us encouragement as we attempt to live faithfully in our culture. Remember, there is a reason God preserved their lives on the pages of Scripture so lets learn from them.

It is also important to remember that through the past two thousand years more and more people have been added to this great cloud of witnesses. On the pages of history and through the years of our lives are more men and women who are examples of what it means to live faithful lives in a culture not aligned with God’s will.

The second action we need to do is remove the hindrances
...let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress.

Change is difficult. 

One reason it is difficult is because it means that we are wrong in the way we live. If we were living right then a change wouldn’t need to happen. 

A second reason why change is hard is because of our habits. It is hard to break a habit, no matter how much we may want to be rid of it. Habits are ingrained in the way we do life.

We all have junk in our our lives that needs to be removed. We have self-image issues that rob us of confidence. We have relationship issues that cause problems with those that we are closest with. We have emotional problems (depression, anxiety, perfectionism, guilt, etc.) that need to be addressed. 

All these things hinder us from being the people God created us to be, and so we need to face these issues and deal with them. That might even mean going to a professional for help.

The universal weight people carry is sin. 
 
Yes, the weight of sin is different for each of us, but it is still there weighing us down. For us to get rid of it requires that we attack it, struggle with it, confess it to God, and continually look for ways to uproot it form our hearts. We cannot go with God and allow sin to remain in our lives unchecked. If we are not struggling to rid our lives of sin then we are not living a life of faith.

The third action we must do is run the race
And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.

God has created us to do good. 

Doing good is more than just being moral people. Doing good requires that we love and serve our neighbors. I like to say that we have been blessed so that we can be a blessing. 

Running the race that God has given to us is about doing the good works that He planned for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). So when we use the blessings God has given us to bring good into this world, we are running the race of faith.

The final action is to reflect on Jesus
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.

Jesus is our ultimate example on how we are to live. He showed us how to love, how to serve, and how to forgive. We must model our lives after his life.

Jesus’s sacrifice is the ultimate encouragement we need to live a life of faith. Knowing that Jesus went through brutal times, to save us from sin, offers us courage when we go through dark times of life and motivates us to remain faithful.

We can only keep our eyes on Jesus by reflecting on his life through reading and studying the Bible. 

I think one of the reasons we fail is because we create an image of Jesus that appeals to us rather than doing the hard work of discovering who Jesus really is. We cannot neglect the study, reading, and discussion that gives us a better understanding of Jesus.

Christians are called to be different from the world. 

It is easy to participate in the activities that help us blend right into our culture. This is why we must fight the hard fight to be different. 

Are you willing to do what it takes to change your life and be different?

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