In The World But Not Of It: It’s Okay to Be Different
The world is growing further apart from God which means as Christ followers we must grow further apart from the world. This will invariably cost us our reputation and our unequally yoked friends. We may get mocked at, made fun of, or even called weird. We as humans have an instinctive desire to belong so this separation though necessary will hardly be easy.
Jesus confirms this when He said, “If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms, and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you.” – (John 15:18-20 MSG)
Jesus is telling us it is okay not to fit in and be perceived as weird or different, and it is okay to go the other way. We are not of this world nor should we do things like them. Instead, we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation called out of darkness into the light. The world may not understand any of that but we are to remain true to our faith and remain the salt and light of the world. There is no way for light to be hidden in the dark nor can salt conceal its flavor.
As young people we may be guilty of some (If not all) of these things: Allowing fear of looking too different or over righteous keep you silent when you knew God needed you to speak out, resisting the war that was raging inside of you and deciding to engage in a discussion despite knowing that God would not be pleased with it but you didn’t want to come off as weird, knowing you should’ve to say, ‘No’ to a request but you couldn’t handle the thought of being talked about or judged so you gave in and broke God’s heart anyways, having a strong urge to lift your hands and praise your Father but your friends were around and you needed to avoid the weird stares so you kept them at your sides instead, or knowing the Lord put a message on your heart to share via social media but you were scared of upsetting those followers that wouldn’t quite agree with you.
It is amidst of all these shortcomings that Jesus gently reminds us of how important we are to Him. He reminds us that we are a different breed, a rare species intentionally made to look different. To try to fit in with the world would be like trying to put a square peg in a round hole- it just would not fit. We are ambassadors of Heaven and as such we would appear different to the world. Jesus, the one whom we should aspire to be like, always looked different to the world. Even the way he spoke showed that He was unlike everyone else. (John 7:46)
To say ‘yes’ to Jesus is to turn your back on the world and its ways and look to Jesus only. It is an agreement to take on a whole new perspective to life and think a different way, speak a different way, and do things in a different style. It is not an easy task but in Jesus, the flesh is crucified and we are resurrected with Him and no longer held as slaves to our fleshly desires. Grace is made available to us to do things we would never have imagined ourselves able to do. Grace doesn’t make it easy, it makes it possible. Therefore, we know that it is possible for us to look less like the world and more like Christ progressively each day. Though it will come with a cost that may not always be easy to handle, we know His grace is more than sufficient to see us through.
To the young people struggling with the temptation of being silent for fear of being ridiculed, to those who are wondering what their followers will think if they click ‘send’ on that God-inspired message, and to the ones struggling with that decision God wants you to make and you keep pondering on what others will think about it, remember that you are not accountable to anyone on this earth. You are not designed to conform to the world nor please it. When the world rejects you remember that you are Jesus’ own beloved one. He already loves you, values you, and thinks you are the most important thing in the world so you do not need to get that validation or acceptance from anywhere else.
Let us fight this fight, run this race set before us, and look forward to the crown of glory that awaits us on the last day and be encouraged and of good cheer beloved of God!
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