As I have said many times before in countless posts, we are not of this world although we live in it. We were created to honor and worship God. We have been placed in our environment to be witnesses to the greatness of God and the kingdom to come. This means we should act differently and even look different that the world. We should be drastically different than the world, so drastically that we are considered alien, or not of this world. John 16:17 says, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” If we follow the example of Jesus we will be seen as not of this world and most likely hated for it. John 15:18-19 says, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
Since we are called to be different than the world I believe that it is important to recognize those differences. If we take the time to look at the differences between the ways of the world and the ways of God, we will see they have very limited similarities. In fact, in most ways, the world goes against the teaching of God completely. If we recognize them and follow the path of God instead we will set ourselves apart and hopefully receive the gift of eternal life with Him in heaven.
The first way we should be different from the world is through our reliance on others. The world encourages us to do it all ourselves and be independent of others. Whereas God tells us that we should be dependant on God and dependant on others for support. The Bible is filled with stories of communities that thrive because they support one another, the first church included. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” In other words, we should be dependent on others for support in our Christian walk. The first step in becoming dependent on others is to open ourselves up to receiving help and leaving our pride at the door.
The second way we should be different from the world is to put the needs of others before ourselves. The world preaches that we have to watch out for number one and take care of ourselves before thinking of others. They say this is the only way to truly get what you want. That is far from what Jesus taught in Mark 9:35, “And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’ ” We are called to be servant leaders and lead from the back, not the front. This means that we should not put ourselves on a pedestal for others to see but be placing others above ourselves.
The world tells us that we are not successful unless we are the best at something. The path of being the best involves doing whatever it takes to achieve that, which means we push others down to get where we want to go. The Bible teaches that we should humble ourselves and focus on using the gifts God has given us to be the best person we can be. That doesn’t mean we will hold the title of being the best at anything but we will hold the title of being the person God created us to be and in my opinion that is much better than any worldly achievement. Worldly achievements are temporary and will fade over time but the achievements we receive in heaven will live on forever.
The world tells us that we have to work, work, work, to earn what we think we deserve, but God tells us that we don’t deserve anything and all we have has been given to us as a gift. We cannot earn the grace that God has given to us through any accomplishments. This is not an excuse to not try to be better and to listen to the calling of the Lord but to better understand that everything is a gift and not a prize for a well-done job.
We should stand out from the world because we choose love over hate. Although the world talks a big game about love, most of the time it is filled with hate and judgment towards others. The way of the Lord is love for all even if they have hurt you, even if they hate you, and even if they are different than you. It is God’s place to make the final judgment, our place is to choose to love others especially when it is a hard decision. We were not sent to earth to be God’s mighty fist that corrects all the wrong in the world. We should be His servants that express love and concern towards those who have ventured off God’s path, not the ones who bring forth Hus wrath.
Finally, the kingdom of God is filled with forgiveness! The very foundation of our faith comes from the fact that God sent His only Son to die to forgive us of our sins. We should be giving that same forgiveness to others. Matthew 6:14-15 tells us in these words, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Forgiveness is easier said than done. Many of us, myself included say that we have forgiven but in reality, we have a running list of those who have done us wrong in our heads. Although we know this is wrong because God instructs us to forgive and forget the wrongdoing but we find that very difficult to actually do. The world’s stance on this subject falls more into the hold a grudge and keep a list. When we keep our list it allows us to harvest pain, anger, and resentment towards those who have hurt us. God wants us to do our best to live in peace will all of His children.
I challenge you to take a look at how you react to the ways of the world. Are you giving in because it is the easy choice or are you standing out? The best way to change someone's mind about our faith isn’t to beat them over the head with it but to set an example in the way we conduct ourselves. I hope you will recognize the ways of the world in comparison to the path of God next time you are at a crossroads.