Due to human conditioning, most people don’t want to appear different. We want a smooth life, with as few bumps and bruises as possible. We don’t want to be considered odd, or peculiar, strange or unapproachable. We crave community, acceptance, symmetry with those that surround us.
I have always been a wallflower, so I have spent most of my life just hanging back, watching, listening, trying to assess situations out before I commit. I’m also quiet and not very outgoing in unknown situations; so that puts another layer of cushion between me and the unknown. Ah, I went through my twenties trying to fit into the mold of the world in the 80s—activities, parties, vacations, clubs, relationships, over spending; but it never quite felt right. It never fit me. I had to force it to look the way I thought I should look to be like everyone else.
My dilemma during that time was that I was a child of God living my life on the top of the fence, on the edge of every amazing thing God had for me on one side and the pressure to fit into the world around me on the other side. I have always been more comfortable seeking to be on God’s side of the fence, but have had my time on the other side, even falling into the pit a few times.
What I have learned with age, experience and finally developing a real, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ in my late 30s, is that He wants us to be different. He expects us to be different. He requires that we be different. He has asked us to be “in this world,” but “not of this world.” As children of God, how can we be different if we are carbon copies of those in the world—doing the same things they do, looking the same way they look, seeking the same pleasures, playing in the same mud-hole, aiming toward the same goals, loving what the world loves, and having no idea that we are walking paths that are on the other side of the fence?
God has given us clear and concise guidance in His Word.
Don’t walk where they walk:
“My son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths.” Proverbs 1:15 (ESV)
“Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.” 2 Corinthians 6:17 (ESV)
Work to deliberately do what you think God would have you do:
“But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.” Daniel 1:8 (ESV)
It may not seem very appealing, but your goal really is to become different:
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (ESV)
He does not promise it will be easy. It is much easier sometimes to just let little things slide. We have to be deliberate each and every day, with every decision we make:
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” Matthew 16:24 (ESV)
In the end—and there will be an end for everyone—all that matters is what God thinks of you, not the world. God loves you and He desires that you would want to live a life that is set apart, different from the world, and fully honoring to Him.
In other words, you do not want to look the same as everyone else!
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. …”. Revelation 3:1-22 (ESV)