By Jamie Osborne
“…many people live as enemies of the cross. Their lives end with destruction. Their god is their stomach, and they take pride in their disgrace because their thoughts focus on earthly things. Our citizenship is in heaven. We look forward to a savior that comes from there—the Lord Jesus Christ.”
~ Philippians 3:18-20 ~
When I was a new believer, I worked in a restaurant that was toxic toward Christians. Being a people-pleaser, I didn’t have the courage to tell anyone I was a follower of Jesus or to live out the values to which Christ called me. Instead, I chose to go along with the crowd and avoid detection. When someone eventually discovered my secret, they laughed incredulously and said, “You?” They found it hypocritical for me to call myself a Christian while living a lifestyle that was no different from theirs. As such, I destroyed my chances to share Jesus with them.
This is one of Christianity’s biggest problems – too many Christians go along with the crowd rather than stand out. As a result, when others find out we are Christians, they react with scorn and derision: “You? You’re no different than anyone else!” When Jesus makes no obvious difference in our lives, people around us have no motivation to know him.
In today’s verses, Paul reminds us that when we decided to follow Jesus, we exchanged our natural-born citizenship for heavenly citizenship. You no longer belong to this world; you belong to the kingdom of God!
Citizens of heaven are not meant to be like citizens of earth. We are set apart as God’s children. Called to live a life where Christ reigns supreme, we walk in love and holiness in order to point the way to Jesus. We can’t do that if we live life how everyone else does. When followers of Jesus follow the crowd, it tells the world Christianity is not very life-changing. But the Bible declares we are meant to be weird (or, to use 1 Peter 2:9’s word, peculiar). We are meant to be so different than everyone else that people stop and take notice.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you need to go around wearing camel hair shirts, eating bugs in honey, and calling people at the grocery store to repentance (unless you are!). I’m saying that Jesus should make a difference in our life and his influence should be obvious. You shouldn’t fit in.
This is truly walking in partnership with God, and it is the calling of those who follow Jesus. We are meant to be quiet missionaries right in the middle of our own lives by living as ones set apart for Jesus. This is why we need to grow and change, and clearly, this is why we need God’s help.
When we act or respond differently than everyone else, it has a threefold effect on those around us. First, people see that Jesus really does make a difference in people’s lives. Second, incorrect assumptions about Christianity or God are changed. Finally, and best of all, people become hungry to know God.
You and I are set apart to point the way to God, but this only works if we are “weird,” if we walk the narrow path that leads to life instead of the broad road leading to destruction.
How about you? Can the people in your life see something different in you? Are people attracted to Jesus because of the “peculiar” way you live your life, or are you more concerned with pleasing people than God? Alternatively, perhaps you are shining, but you’re so immersed in the ‘Christian bubble’ that you’re simply a light amongst lights. To be effective, light must pierce the darkness. In other words, you must shine, and you must shine in dark places.
- Think: The way I live can point people toward or away from Jesus.
- Do: Make a resolution regarding this topic. For example, resolve to stop compromising in a certain area of your life, or resolve to get out of the Christian bubble. Write down your resolution, tell someone who can pray for you and keep you accountable, and pray regularly for God to give you the power to live it out.