Have you ever felt out of place? I did earlier this week. Some co-workers and I went to eat lunch at a place on the beach. After lunch, we decided to walk down a long fishing pier. The beach below was crowded with people swimming and sun tanning. The pier was full of people dressed similarly, but had fishing poles in their hands. The four of us walked down the pier in our dress shirts, ties, slacks and dress shoes. To say people took double takes would be an understatement.
It was hot. We were sweating. We kept walking all the way to the end of the pier though. As people stared, we politely smiled and acted as though we belonged. No matter how much we pretended, we just didn’t. We didn’t have the right attire on for the beach. We didn’t have the right mindset for the beach. We were business minded men in a crowd full of vacationers.
As a Christian, that’s how we’re supposed to be in this world. We are to stand out and to be different. I love how the Message phrases Romans 12:2. It says, “Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.” At the beach, the culture is dress down, relax and have a good time. We were not well adjusted to that culture. Our presence was noticed by everyone.
In this world, the culture is continuing to move away from God. As Christians, it is not our job to be so adjusted to that culture that we fit in. We are to stand out, stand up and be different. We are to follow Christ even when it’s not popular. In John 15, Jesus said, “If you lived on the worlds terms, the world would love you as one of its own. I chose you to come out of the world.” He chose us to live differently. He said the world would hate us.
If Jesus said the world is going to hate us because we’re different, why do we spend so much time and energy trying to get them to love us? Our human nature wants to be loved and accepted. God’s acceptance should be more important to us than the world’s acceptance. We are called to be salt and light. Salt changes the flavor of everything it touches. Light chases away the darkness all around it. Are people changed by having me in their lives? Are your friends changed by having you in their lives?
Living for Christ in this world is like wearing a suit at the beach. You’re going to stand out. You’re supposed to stand out. In the same passage in Matthew 5 where Jesus calls us to be salt and light, He says, “Let your good deeds shine for all to see, so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father.” We’re not different just to be different. There’s a purpose to it. That purpose is to draw other to the cross. They should see a difference in our lives versus the lives that live according to the culture of the world so we can reach them.