A believer should be different from the world by not following the status quo and by standing out from the pack. We are in a time where it is so difficult to dare to be different. We are in the era of social media frenzy and wanton ungodliness. Social media has in recent times influenced characters, lifestyles and choices, especially among young people and adults.
A believer must never follow the trend of the world but must instead always stand out. The Bible reminds us in Romans 12: 2 not to be conformed to the world, but rather be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This admonition is apter now than ever before because of the level of ungodliness all around us (2 Timothy 3: 1-7). We have to, as believers live by the set of rules of our master and saviour, Jesus Christ. When God says “thou shall not” – it is not negotiable – it is a law and must be obeyed. There are consequences when a law is broken. With God, it is a theocracy and not a democracy.
From the Bible, we have numerous examples of men and women who choose to stand out. These ones never compromised their faith but rather were ready to lose everything that they may honour God by obeying His commandments.
Examples of people who stood their grounds and stood out for God despite the seemingly overwhelming consequences of their decisions were Daniel(Daniel 6), the three Hebrew boys Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego (Daniel 3: 6-28) and Paul (the book of Acts). Daniel chose to keep praying to Jehovah despite the laws in the land forbidding him to do so at that time even at the risk of being cast into the lion’s den. He stood his ground and changed worship as it were in the land of Babylon.
The three Hebrew boys refused to bow to an idol and preferred to be cast into the fire rather than disobeying one of the commandments of God.
Paul who was formerly Saul, after his conversion became the foremost outspoken evangelist of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. He suffered severe beatings severally, imprisonment, shipwrecks and untold hardship for the sake of the gospel. He stood his grounds despite the intimidations and afflictions.
The above examples are not exhaustive of the people in the Bible who chose to stand out by daring to be different. In our present times, there are some straightforward and basic ways we can stand out and dare to be different from what obtains in our environment. If we cannot afford to be different in some basic things how then will we dare to stand out in more complicated matters? There is a myriad of simple ways we can dare to be different and stand out for Christ.
Let’s analyse three fundamental areas that many believers are still struggling with today;
- Dressing: More often than not, believers are very quick to say that dressing does not matter at all and that the Lord looks at only the heart. This is a naïve way of reasoning. A believer must be definitely different from a harlot or nightclub man or woman in their dressing. Moses was mistaken for an Egyptian because of his outfit (Exodus 2: 19). As believers, we are very often addressed by the way we are dressed. To buttress this point further, Jesus said that whosoever looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew: 5: 28). Why then would a believer, either man or woman, dress in a way that would stir up lust? We must do things with decorum and not determine our fashion sense by the world trends. Decent does not mean boring. We can be adequately covered up and still look chic and fashionable.
- Speech: People who are watching us or looking up to us rarely overlook this aspect of our lives. Therefore, we must be careful to consider how we talk and the words we use. Our words must always be seasoned with salt and apt for the occasion. (Colossians 4: 6, Proverbs 25: 11). I once heard a Pastor use the word “f—k up” and I cringed at his choice of words. I was shocked and also disappointed. There are so many other lousy words and phrases that believers use carelessly, which brings ridicule to the name of the Lord we profess to serve and worship. Careless words do not reflect the Christ in us. I read somewhere that children of the King should use the language of the court, and it impacted me so much. I encourage every believer to watch his speech by guarding his/her tongue in all wisdom.
- Financial Integrity: Integrity refers to uprightness. It is accountability for your actions and decisions. I specifically listed financial integrity because a lack of financial integrity has become one of the banes of growth in the church both spiritual and numerical. Financial integrity refers to being trustworthy and accountable in the management of cash and other financial instruments. This is something that is, unfortunately, lacking in some believers. It has become commonplace to hear people complain of having been played a fast one or being duped by a believer or even a pastor. The saddest part of it is that you hear some believers talking lightly about issues like this or using loose terms such as “hustling” to describe a crime of this magnitude. We have to realise that financial integrity is not negotiable for every believer. Any money handed over to us for a project must be accounted for because failing in this has far-reaching Many people have refused to have anything to do with the church because a so-called pastor or believer duped them.
Men and brethren, we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5: 13-16). We are to give hope to others because we are the moral compass of the world. We must therefore never conform to the acceptable wrong practices of the world but rather set new standards and turn over the wrong practices around us, like the Hebrew boys we earlier mentioned were able to do.
These areas enumerated above where we can dare to be different seems inconsequential compared to how the saints of old dared to be different, but the truth is we must start from somewhere and if we can’t stand out in basic things like these, how then can we dare to be different in more challenging situations? Let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us live an upright life and choose to stand out from the crowd by daring to be different from the ways of the world.
May the Lord help us all in Jesus’ name Amen.