DARE TO BE DIFFERENT
It is no news that as one grows from infancy to old age, one is besieged with the temptation to try new things and join the new trend or the majority. Many strive daily to fit into the latest fashion, movement or class. They want to be part of the majority; they want to associate with the reigning things or people. There are countless examples. People are quick to try out the latest fashion, clothing, hairstyle, car, club and all forms of innovation. Most of these individuals have identity issues or pride.
This lifestyle is completely okay for the worldly but not for the Christian. Christians are born of the Spirit with a Christ-like identity. They are not quickly swayed by the latest trend, movement, class or fashion. They play by a different set of rules. They are not commissioned to be part of the majority for selfish motives. In truth, they are already part of the majority, but not the world’s majority, for one with God is majority.
Christians are not expected to belong to the world’s majority but to maintain a relationship with God who is Master and Lord of the universe. To put it differently, Christians are expected to attract people to God and not to be drawn away from God. We are the light of the world (see Matthew 5:13-16).
Christians must strive daily to strengthen their relationship with God by choosing and practising what is godly. They must flee from worldly trends that may jeopardize their relationship with God. It is the natural thing to do. When you fall in love, your whole world revolves around your beloved; you want to do everything to make the relationship work, enjoyable, pleasant and lasting. Often, we put off daily routines in order to have more time for, or to focus on, our love relationship. In the same light, a Christians relationship with God demands him to prune off every worldly routine or relationship that will endanger his relationship with God. He must wake up daily with the attitude of pleasing God. His decisions and actions must be in conformity with his desire to please God.
We all know that one of the reasons why many relationships fall apart is infidelity – cheating. That is, when one or both parties want to live according to the standards of the world: People do it, so it is okay if I do it. That has always been the attitude of those who want to be part of the world’s majority. As Christians, there is something wrong with such worldly attitude in our relationship with God and human beings. True lovers continually fall in love and God cherishes such daily renewal of love. He always falls in love with us and He wants us to fall in love with Him daily, His love is new every morning. In truth, God doesn’t have any problem with regards to fidelity in His relationship with us (see 2 Timothy 2:13). Instead, we are the cheaters (unfaithful ones) in our relationship with God.
Hence, we must understand that as Christians we are called to live the life of Christ. Yes, as imitators of Christ, we are called to follow the example of our Master, Christ Jesus. A life of complete submissiveness to God’s will (see Philippians 2:1-11). We must be submissive to God and not to the world; we must honour and please God by our way of life and not to please the world or honour our worldly ego.
All Christ’s faithful have a heavenly goal: to partake in the wedding feast of the Lamb. That is, to run the heavenly race and win the crown of righteousness where Christ is seated at the right hand of God Almighty. This is our goal! This is our vision!
St. Paul in his letter to the Colossians reminds us of this goal: So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4 NRSV).
Based on this reality of our Christian vision, we must “dare to be different from those who cheat on God, who fraternize with the world and lose sight of their heavenly goal the crown of life“.
St. Paul in his letter to the Romans reiterated this point: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2 NRSV).
This scripture creates a dichotomy between a life in the Spirit (heavenly candidates) and a life in the flesh (conformity to the world). Across the globe many people who are living a life in the flesh seem to be in the majority. Many of them are comfortable with their worldly lifestyle because they are not alone in this realm of life.
They are worldly because of their acts of sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the likes. (See Galatians 5:19-20). These vices have never built or sustained a love relationship; instead, they rip apart a promising, stable or godly relationship.
Some of us live in conformity with the world because of the fear of marginalization, joy, wealth, pride, sexual pleasures, next meal, fame and lack of contentment. We must remember that we are Christ’s faithful and that, He died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died and was raised for them” (2 Corinthians 5:15 NRSV).
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to Gods law indeed it cannot please God. So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to flesh – for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live (Romans 8:5-8, 12-13 NRSV).
Satan recognizes the power of the mind. He knows the thought of good and bad is conceived and actualized in the mind (See Luke 6:45). Thus, he often takes advantage of any opening to our minds and feeds them with thoughts of worldliness. Most times, these thoughts are wrapped in pleasurable packs with intent to destroy our relationship with God.
Hence, the scripture says: Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23 NRSV), for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21 NRSV).
Beloved brothers and sisters, in your office, group, family, congregation, school, business and in whatever you do, dare to be different! Don’t join the world’s majority who are willing to trade their heavenly glory for earthly joy or pleasures. I know many will call you names (over spiritual, mu-mu, and the likes) while some will say, Heaven helps those who help themselves”.
My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, dare to be different and know that:If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you (1 Peter 4:14 NRSV).
Conclusively, Bob Gass in one of his admonitions said, The first relationship you need is with God because every blessing in life flows from Him.” In addition, Apostle Paul taught us how to strengthen our relationship with, and please God; how to dare to be different as we sojourn to our heavenly home:
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9).
At this very moment, would you say you are in a cordial relationship with God? How much do you value your relationship with God and what will you do daily to strengthen your relationship with Him?
Heavenly Father, I need Your grace to resist the things of the flesh and its pleasures in order to be more heaven-focused so as to share in the heavenly feast of the Lamb. Amen.
Jesus Christ Speaks
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 NRSV).