Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Same but Different

Shortly after I wrote about my High School reunion, I read the following in my devotional:

“Do not be afraid to be different from other people. The path I have called you to travel is exquisitely right for you. The more closely you follow My leading, the more fully I can develop your gifts. To follow Me wholeheartedly, you must relinquish your desire to please other people. However, your closeness to Me will bless others by enabling you to shine brightly in this dark world.

It is hard not to want to please other people. In other words, it is hard not to conform to the patterns of this world. To obey God’s Word in today’s society is to swim against the current of cultural constraints. We can no longer assume that people follow any kind of Christ-inspired consciousness because for generations, now, people have grown up without guidance on the things of the Spirit. This guidance used to be a given. Kids used to find it at school, at home, at church. It used to be part of who we were as a nation. There used to be a sense of knowledge of who Christ is. There was a sense that everyone was the same and that everyone had the same values. That sense is harder to come by nowadays…I guess we might have taken it all for granted.

Today, I wonder, was the generalized knowledge and sense of devotion experienced in the past, just empty religiosity? Was the normal inclusion of Christianity in our society only a fleeting nod without much depth? Was the Christian consciousness just one more cultural expression that lacked the fervor, passion and intensity that our Jealous God requires and commands?

After all, no amount of instruction on the things of faith would ever be enough to achieve salvation since salvation is not attainable by knowledge or by deeds. Salvation is the greatest gift of Grace given to us by the sacrifice of Christ and revealed to us by the Holy Spirit who moves us to believe and accept.

The difference between our history and our present, I think is that unlike in the recent past, today’s Christian has something at stake. The fact that in order to live as a Christian in today’s society is way harder and requires more of us than it did, say, 15 years ago, implies a higher cost that never had to be paid before. This higher cost is the fact that we have to be different from everyone else. Today’s Christian cannot be the same as those around him or her. We have to walk, behave, dress, speak, look, act and feel different. Living a life that strives to please God is in direct contradiction with what society strives for. Therefore, we will be labeled different and it will take for us to put all of our skin, flesh and soul into the game in order to win it.

So…now that I think of it…perhaps we are living more intense times now after all. Perhaps my friends were right and looking the same is not a good thing…it’s not much of a compliment. I need to be different so I can be identified as a child of God. I need to have a spiritual make-over that is evident to those around me. However, such transformation is not easy or quick. It takes intentionality, trust, obedience and time. It takes tuning into the frequency of the Holy Spirit to hear His whispering. It takes imprinting the Word into our hearts and following its teaching as a lamp into our path. It takes a willing soul that, like clay in the hands of the Master Potter, is ready to be malleable so He can do the transformation.

I pray we can all become what God intended for us to be, so that in the end we are found on the side of the Most High.

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