>Sometimes I wonder if we really know what it means to stand apart from this world. I might end up sounding like a broken record on this topic, but it is the one the Lord seems to be hammering into my heart and mind. So, it is the one I’m sharing.
If you were to take an explorative journey through 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and many of the prophets, something just might stand out. It has for me, at least. The Israelites had forgotten what was in the law. They had forgotten what God had outlined not just for their “church” experiences, but for their daily lives. They had forgotten how to live like they were set apart. As a result, they just blended in with the societies around them.
Isaiah puts it this way…
For You have abandoned Your people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled with influences from the east, and they are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they strike bargains with the children of foreigners. Their land has also been filled with silver and gold and there is no end to their treasures; their land has also been filled with horses and there is no end to their chariots. Their land has also been filled with idols; they worship the work of their hands, that which their fingers have made. So the common man has been humbled and the man of importance has been abased, but do not forgive them. Isaiah 2:6-9 (NASB)
The scary thing is that this sounds a lot like us. We as American Christians are filled with the influences of American society. Look at our daily lives. How we choose our spouses, raise and educate our children, choose our daily needs such as groceries and living conditions, plan our vacations and leisure, and determine our daily activities are based on the society in which we live. The evaluation of our possessions is based on a comparison with the American dream. The work of our hands, whether it be that paycheck or other successes, is very important to us.
The New Testament church was so different from the rest of society that believers were often very greatly misunderstood by their neighbors. All sorts of rumors floated around about the cannibalistic anti-government wackos who followed The Way. We are so far removed from that that we can actually go through our daily lives without people realizing we are Christians! We come across as good, moral people, but that’s about as special as it gets. What a contrast!
It has been a hard thing for me to evaluate my life in light of this. It is not easy to look at what I have and what I do each day and ask, “Lord, am I blending in or am I set apart?” To be honest, I’ve had to give up some things that were not fun to give up. But, I find my life so much freer because of it. Sadly, it still doesn’t come naturally. I still fight it. I find that what I am clinging to most stubbornly is probably the next thing I must release. Sometimes God gives it back to me in a much more godly way, but other times it must go for good.
If we were to really take a prayerful look at our lives, both our individual daily lives and our lives as a church, and then be willing to make changes to stand apart, I think we would see some of the amazing growth we say we crave. But first we have to be willing to stand apart and be more than a little weird in the eyes of our society!