Sermon August 11, 2019 – PastorBryon – Be Different
If someone approached you for a street interview and asked you to describe Christians in one word what would that word be? Legalistic? Hypocritical? Or would the words Loving, caring, or compassionate come to mind. Christians have such a bad rap that we even describe ourselves sometimes with negative words. Almost everyone has had a negative interaction with a church leader or member that has left them feeling anything but loved.
It’s said that Ghandi stated, I like your Christ but not you’re Christians. Why it is that Christians have such a bad rap in the world? After all, the Bible says that we are sanctified, made Holy, set apart. Maybe the reason we have such a bad reputation is because we hold to these claims, in fact we preach them and claim them as ours yet so many Christians today either don’t implement the teachings of Christ in their own life or they implement some perverted version.
As Christians shouldn’t we be different? Shouldn’t we be distinct, separate, not the same, out of the ordinary, unusual? Christ was distinct, separate, out of the ordinary, and he called his followers to be like him.
Now, I want you to understand that I’m not speaking about those other Christians. This message isn’t about those Baptist up the street or Methodist or even the Presbyterians, I’m taking about me and you failing to live in such a way that matches God’s command to us to be Holy.
Can the world see something different in you and me or do we just look like everyone else, nothing unique about us at all?
What I’ve learned in my 50 years on this earth is that you can fake a lot of things but love and holiness aren’t among those things you can fake. It’s either genuine or its not.
Today I want to discuss what it means to be different as a Christian. Why it’s so difficult and how living differently looks.
1 Peter 1:13-22
13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
1 Peter 2:1
2 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
Our scripture is taken from a letter that the Apostle Peter wrote to Christians living in a region under Roman rule. They were suffering persecution for their faith and Peter writes to encourage them to stand fast and continue to be different in their world even in the midst of persecution.
(v.13) He begins with a strong statement to “gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and reest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”.
To paraphrase, keep your minds alert, don’t do something that will divert your attention from Christ and stay focused on the thinks of heaven, not of this world.
(v.14-16) 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
Simply put, don’t act like to did before you knew Christ.
It’s human nature to not want to be different. In fact all our lives most of us have struggled to fit in, whether at school, on the job, in our social groups. Why is that?
The problem with being different
We value conformity
We don’t want to stand out from the crowd. We wear the same style of clothes, talk the latest talk, we conform to the “in” things. We don’t want to be perceived as being odd. We have become an assembly-line society. We are terrified of being set apart.
We don’t want to come across as a hypocrite
We know ourselves well enough to know in our present condition we are looking too holy and so we don’t want to come off as looking like we are preaching one thing and living another way. We also don’t want to displays actions that have become known as “holier-than-thou.” Most people dislike behaviors that put one on a pedestal as being better than the rest. Jesus despised this type of mentality and morality in the Pharisees, and we agree with him.
We misunderstand what it means to be holy
Often we have this picture of what it looks like to be holy. Often its thought of as living a monk-like life. As if we must separate ourselves from any type of pleasure or fun. Real holiness, the genuine and authentic character of being different, is none of those things. Yet it is more than that. What does it mean to be different? The apostle Peter answers that question in verse 13.
The meaning of being different
1 It means that we think differently (v. 13)
To be different begins with the proper preparation of our minds. Peter uses a Middle Eastern analogy to describe how one is to prepare their minds. During his time men wore long, flowing robes. When they were preparing to run or to do physical labor, they usually lifted their robes and secured them with a belt or girdle around their waist. This allowed them the freedom of movement they needed to perform their work. Today, we would use the expression, “roll up our sleeves.” In other words, we are to take the initiative in preparing our minds for the life of holiness. It will require effort and hard work. Behavioral scientists have discovered that human behavior is determined to a great extent by the subconscious mind. The computer vocabulary graphically describes the potential of human behavior, “Garbage in, garbage out.” In the same way, to be different begins with our minds. Our minds must be holy if our behavior is to be holy.
“For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (Prov. 23:7) says the writer of Proverbs. The apostle Paul warns us not to let the world squeeze us into its mold, “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2).
2. It means that we live differently (v. 17)
A natural outgrowth of our right thinking is right living. When we begin to think new thoughts, we begin to live a distinct life.
Henry Thoreau, a rugged New England individualist of the nineteenth century, once went to jail rather than pay his poll tax to a state that supported slavery. During this period he wrote his essay “Civil Disobedience”.
Thoreau’s good friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson, hurried to visit him in jail. Peering through the bars exclaimed: “Why, Henry, what are you doing in there?” The sharp-witted Thoreau replied, “Nay, Ralph, the question is, what are you doing out there?”
3 It means that we love differently (v. 22)
Love sets us apart. Love is the display of holiness. Love is the litmus test for Christians.
It is not just any kind of love. It is a:
- Sincere love. It is genuine, authentic. Like God’s love for us. Our motive is not to get, but to give.
- Deep love. It is intense, fervent. It means to love with all of our strength. Christian love is not a feeling. It is a matter of the will.
- Pure love. It is spotless, clean. Men speak romantically about loving from the heart, but God speaks realistically about loving from a pure heart.
This is the same kind of love Jesus talked about when he said, “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Love one another – sincerely, deeply, and purely – and people will know that you are different. They will know that you are followers of Christ.
In the first century a pagan went to report on the early church movement. He visited a compound where Christians were living together. He intended to write something bad. Instead he wrote, “Behold, how they love one another.” As Christians there should be something distinctly different about us. The Bible says that people will know us by our love (John 13:35).
Galatians 2:20 says I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Be Different! Amen.