Friday, February 22, 2013

We Should be Different


Ex.11:7 …that ye may know how that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.

Lev.10:10 And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;

II Cor.6: 14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

Throughout the Scriptures God’s people are exhorted and commanded to be different and even separate from those that do not know God. This is a non-negotiable aspect of walking with God, and in the New Testament walking in the Spirit. We cannot be aligned with the world of darkness and still profess to be walking in the light of Jesus Christ.

Now it may be somewhat difficult to stand out if we lived within a moral culture that lived outwardly according to the moral dictates of Scripture. If the culture was pro-life and had solid traditional marriages, and if the culture was not seeking material gain and personal success, and if the culture was peaceful and nonviolent, then it would be difficult to appear outwardly different while living in that culture. But even then we still would be exhorted by Scripture to remain separate from unbelievers regardless how moral they seemed to be.

But we do not live in a culture which in any way resembles any of the dictates and teachings of the New Testament. In fact, the culture in which we live exhibits a pattern of life that is at great odds with the teachings and example of Jesus. And within this culture we as believing followers of Jesus live. But the trappings of a culture such as this are very alluring. In fact, like the undertow of an ocean they relentlessly seek our minds, our hearts, and ultimately our lives. Like the sirens of Homer’s mythology, this culture beckons us through many avenues. And to a large degree, the church has heard their voice and has responded.

When the Lord teaches us about being different and even separate, what does that entail? I mean we all have to work and eat and buy things. But we can generally classify these things into two categories. They are the affairs of the flesh and the affairs of the spirit. Let us deal with the affairs of the flesh first. We, as believers, must strive to keep ourselves unspotted from the sinful and lustful behaviors of the world. It would seem that this would be easy but in fact it is not.

Believers by the millions think nothing of embracing forms of entertainment that are an affront to God and at odds with Scriptural teachings. Millions go every weekend and sit in front of large screens that show all sorts of sinful and salacious acts that include offensive language, horrific violence, and all kinds of sexual acts. And just because it is a movie and considered entertainment believers feel no conviction about allowing such things to entertain them, especially if they voice their disapproval. This is not to mention that our money goes to help produce more of the same.

The same can be said about television and cable. But another way in which the church has succumbed to the ways of this world is marriage. Believers date the same way as do unbelievers, they choose mates in a similar way, and they divorce along the same lines. Believers remarry with the same regularity as do the unbelievers as well. This should not be, but it has become common and accepted practice within the church that is supposed to different and remarkable.

One of the most ways the church acts just like the world is in the issue of money and material things. Somewhere along the line the church bought in to the capitalist mindset and now everything the world does short of stealing is on the table. Now a believer can be in great debt through mortgage and car loans and even credit cards and still be considered a faithful Christian. The house can be larger than he needs, the car can be above his needs, and some of his possessions can be labeled as luxuries and yet that remains commonplace within the church. There are even thousands of “Christian cruises” offered every year in which believers spend literally thousands upon thousands of dollars to see the sights and consume large amounts of food. And that is being different than the world?

HERE is an authentic Christian cruise.

There are many unbelievers who read the Bible and have bumper stickers. They even say their prayers. And within the evangelical church where those kinds of spiritual disciplines should be remarkable, they are not. The average evangelical church member spends a paltry amount of time in seeking Christ. And in many, many cases the preacher spends more time in meetings, lunches, and even golf than he does in deep prayer. Where is the difference in that? Instead of being a vibrant and pulsating representative of Jesus Christ the church has been diluted into a religious organization that bears a striking resemblance to other secular organizations with the major difference being what they say they believe.

In this world there seems to be only two gods, Jesus and money. Now the western church has taken the god named “money” and renamed it “Jesus”. Now that seems to work as long as Jesus does not come back or as long as we do not believe the Bible. Can it be possible that God sees the horror of children dying by the millions without food or water and medicine, and yet He directs His followers to borrow great sums of money to build comfortable buildings with all the media technological advances of sound and screen? Is that the kind of God Jesus represented? Is that really who Jesus was? We are no different than the Moose Club.

And then there are the ways in which we are supposed to be different in spirit. That means we are supposed to see things in the Spirit and not the flesh. We are different than the fallen culture. Our pursuits are different, our desires are different, our message is different, and our hearts are different. We see sinners in a redemptive light. We recognize that placing band aids on the fallen world only soothes the flesh but accomplishes nothing for the kingdom of God. We have no stomach for politics and the allegiances of men. We are not on any side except for Jesus. America is not our home, heaven is.

But as the years went by the church looked out at the world around and saw some things she likes. And even though we were never promised utopia here as pilgrims, believers began to desire a better earthly life. And the sin all around them disturbed believers and instead of the gospel and the love of God, the church turned to politics and legislation. How could this be? How could the church act and pursue ways that were like the ways of the heathen? It’s because the church pledged her allegiance to an earthly country and thereby unknowingly sold her birthright. It does not mean a believer is not saved, but it does mean a believer who pledges allegiance to a country has compromised his spiritual power and no longer walks in the ways of Jesus.

Back when I was born again many churches focused on being separate and were even legalistic about it. Of course they concentrated on drinking and smoking and ignored the nationalism part, but at least it was an issue. But through the years separation no longer was a church issue. Today you can almost live any way you desire and still feel very comfortable attending an evangelical church. The whole concept of “church” has fundamentally changed. It is now a place where people can find ways to compliment their lives rather than places where believers meet to worship and serve Jesus corporately. And churches gear their entire ministry to attract people.

But I believe where God desires to have believers most different is in their hearts. Since we claim theologically to have a new heart and life, it should follow that we manifest such a change in ways practically, dynamically, and spiritually. I mean what would separate a person living in America if he or she set out to literally and without compromise live out the unabridged teachings of Jesus? Would that life appear fundamentally different than those around it? And even though that would mean avoiding certain practices and living without many accepted avenues of personal aggrandizements, wouldn’t what would be most remarkable about that kind of life be found in what he or she does rather than what they avoid?

Wouldn’t that be a marvel if people thought Christians were different because of the way they loved and the way they forgave and the way they helped everyone they could? And because of such a phenomenon people couldn’t help but wonder “Why”. And as they wondered they remembered something. These same people seemed to use the name “Jesus” a lot. And perhaps these people might even believe that this Jesus, although He died a few thousand years ago, was somehow still alive. And that, my friends, is the revelation which should mark us as believers and the church as a whole.

I Pet.2: 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;


AnonymousNoMore said...

Great timing of this post...for it has gripped me today how difficult and challenging it is for today's Christians to be apart from this world. With our scientific, communication and modern advances of today's world it actually creates distance between us and God. It creates a false sense of independence and self-reliance. Not to mention there are more idols today than one can count (countless things we put before God). It is no wonder there is such a struggle to actually see followers of Christ who look and act differently than other decent Mr. or Mrs. Joneses. Many of us are all following the same exact thing....

From an early age, we are taught about life with way too much emphasis put on rewards of living being wealth, prosperity and gain. In other words, the path in this world is strictly paved for this life, for this world, and most sadly - for ourselves. We are not taught to see this life as a vapor.

When the time comes that we undo this brainwashed world-view religion and become liberated to the Christ way of finally understanding our reward is NOT here....the time for comfort is not here, this life on earth is not for our happiness, but for giving God glory then the transformation will occur and the difference will be seen.

Still on this road to discovery with just one foot on the path, but eager to forge forward.

Anonymous said...

A very good and timely reminder Pastor Rick. We definitely should be different, we defiantly should be separate. The modern church likes to pretend to champion the cause of the poor, but in the meanwhile, give away loads of money to the likes of Hollywood, financial institutions, fashion designers etc. So hypocritical. As for these so called 'Christian cruises', they are a contradiction in terms. As believers, we are supposed to be good stewards and look toward heaven, not squander loads of money on a 'worldly paradise'. In regards to debt, this is precisely what blinds us spiritually. More than anything else, financial debt blocks our understanding of God. Just like Sodom and Gomorrah, the modern church is over fed and under concerned.

Cherie c. said...


How True what you say! With all the deception going on it is easy to see why the world thinks there is no God or thinks that God is something that needs to change with the times.

I think about that a lot, especially when my high IQ son thinks about Him. He is truly brain washed and I pray every day for God to draw him near and reveal the truth to him. My son has a friend who says he is a Christian. Jeff speaks highly of this person, so I a know that he has not shared the Word of God with Jeff. When I hear Jeff tell me about what they did on the golf course the following Scripture comes to my mind:

2 Corinthians 6:14
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

I am sure if I press Jeff will tell me that his friend's Christianity is better than mine. And I will be compelled to tell him that his friend is no Christian at all.

Those who are true followers of Jesus have very few worldly friends. I just go over grieving the loss of my best friend of twenty years because she could not accept me as a follower of Christ. She came into my life a few weeks after my mom passed away and I was thankful for her. She is a nice person, but I guess the truth that nice doesn't get you to Heaven didn't sit with her. Since my true conversion I have been left by many who I love, but no matter how lonely it gets sometimes there is my Blessed Hope to keep me strong.

Love to All!

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Anonymous said...

I remember one of our church's priority of "not being unequally yoked together with unbelievers" and it meant not to have association with sinners in sinful activities, (movie theatres, arcades, bars, secular music concerts, cable television.......etc.

They also suggested dressing against today's fashions that expose a lot of skin, or refrained from wearing jewelry, and adornments on their bodies, they discouraged tattoos, anything that would make the "temple" look worldly.

So, with that, the believer soon feels they've done their part, feeling so self-righteous, that they ignore the real meaning of those verses.

But as soon as one obeys each pastor's edict, five or 10 more worldly things will beckon people and those are just as "unclean".

I've observed clean living godly people who look, act unyoked, but can be blinded with some yoke that they deem permissible. Like, for instance, a pastor who trades in his car every two or three years for a new one, In our world, we see nothing wrong with that; in fact, it probably makes investment sense to keep trading in for new, to ensure less car repair, and to have a warranty. But if one has adequate faith, they'd keep the old car and save the church money; Or the church renting a bus to go on a weekend shopping spree, or hiring a truck from some City to deliver a truckload of Crispy Creme Donuts to the church for all those donut-loving christians. And then there's the church renovations that run into the thousands to give the tabernacle a facelift. And there's the special offering for a up-and-coming couple that need money to go to the Caribbean to tend to the church down there. Or, there's a special offering for sending the pastor and wife and family overseas to speak at a all sounds like politics, where voters send their donations to a politician's PAC so he can use it to spread his message. And they travel first class and are treated as celebrities when they get to their destination, (pastors), when they return, we hear a great story of how well they were treated and all the fun things they did.

It starts to look and sound like the world and those who donate their mite for such spectacles who can't afford a new car, let alone afford car repairs for an old beater, or those widows who depend on their social security cheque and have no extra income who tithe, or those couples who are unemployed and strugging with young families, all these have to sit and endure the clergy acting like 'celebrities' on God's altar throwing bouquets at each other.

When the world comes to visit these churches, it's taken aback at the hypocrisies; because church today uses the exact same methods of the world to keep those buckets of money coming in. They are using political ploys to keep their heads above financial water.

Today's CHURCH concept and activity IS fellowship with the world and if all pastors were honest, they'd admit it is.

Cal said...

I take my cue in a lot of ways from an early Christian text called the Epistle to Diognetus:

"The Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers"

I'll tell you that I do smoke and drink and even dance. I don't care to be known or not known for any of this. My greatest hope is to be as Jesus says when He tells us the world will know us by our love.

For King Jesus, for His crown and covenant, for our city that awaits in Heaven! We are a pilgrim people, journeying together, until He returns.


Kaitielyn said...

Cherie c.
I understand your grief over your friend of 20 years. Same thing happened to me with my sister-in-law. I am glad now though,I see what happened as the Lord separating us. I pray for her daily now, when I did not before!

And it sure is challenging to teach children NOT to strive for these worldly things, especially when a spouse wants the kids to grow up, get to college, get good degree, make good money, buy good house, ect. ect. I do believe the Lord has other things in mind for us than these things!

Anonymous said...

So weird, I added a comment as anonymous since I forgot my google sign in but it signed me in as my teen daughter and her account is 6 years old and has never been used on this computer! So, the last post by katielyn was actually by me. My name is Diana.

Cherie c. said...

Hi Diana,

Thank you for your comforting words. Yes, I pray for my old friend now more than I did when we were friends. But it was conviction I think she ran from. All I did was tell her about the Lord and what He has done for me.

I don't force anything upon anyone. It may seem that way at times because I am very passionate about the Lord and the salvation of the people I love. I use myself as an example too. But they refuse to accept the truth. All we can do is continue to pray for them.

Nice to meet you sister in Christ.