Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.
1 Peter 2:11-12 (NLT)
Note from Kip…
People tend to quickly discern differences. You can spot an orange in a bin or lemons from fifty feet away without even focusing your attention. The detection of differences seems to be something that is imbedded in our subconscious thinking.
This isn’t only true of visual differences, this auto-recognition even picks up on slight differences and is shared in our other senses as well. You can sit back and tick through them
Sight – Color, shape, reflectivity, size…
Hearing – Differences in pitch, volume, variance and constance…
Taste – Bitter, sweet, savory, salty…
Smell – Floral, musty, clean, citrus, smoke…
Touch – Smooth, rough, soft, hard, moisture, temperature…
These are the traditional senses we refer to as the ‘five senses’, and you see with every one of them they have not just the possibility but the tendency to quickly determine difference. I left three dots at the end of each because there are more for each of these five senses.
The very term sense is the basis of the word sensor, which by definition distinguishes variance between things.
Back to the Scripture
Peter in our opening passage says, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners”.
Peter understood clearly that the follower of Christ Jesus is different from the world. He talks about us as temporary residents and foreigners in this world.
When you see someone just off the plane from a another country that has a significantly different culture than our own, those ‘foreigners’ are different. Their language may be different. Even if they speak the language of the place where they have traveled to, their accent may be different. Other differences that become often obvious are the way they dress, their mannerisms, and even how they carry themselves, all may signal that they are not from around here!
My family experienced that when we moved from Michigan to Alabama. It was less than a week after being here that I had a gentleman giving me directions, who looked at me a bit strange and blurt out, ‘Y’all ante from round here are ya?’.
The one who has accepted Jesus as Lord and savior has been changed. We are not who we were before and we are different to a purpose. We are different be cause we are no longer from here. We were adopted into God’s family and in doing so we were changed!
So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NLT)
Jesus was different from His surroundings when He walked here with us. It wasn’t difficult for people to see this when they encountered him. The fishermen tending to their nets were approached by Him and when He told them to follow Him and He would make them fishers of men, they didn’t hesitate, they didn’t question this stranger about how he would do this.
They immediately dropped their nets and became disciples and apostles of Christ Jesus. Why? They saw a differences in Jesus. They saw something that they wanted to emulate. They saw that He wasn’t just a random stranger.
Paul states in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that we become a new person if we belong to Christ.
We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.
Romans 6:6-9 (NLT)
Surrender of our lives to Jesus changes us. The old self is dead, it is nailed to the cross with Christ. With His resurrection we are raised to new life in Him. WE ARE A NEW creation. We are in fact, different.
So Are We Different?
If this is the case, then why doesn’t the world around us see us as being different?
Let’s go back to that foreigner that is getting off the plane that we saw as different. He didn’t have to say a word and we knew he was different. However, as the years went by, he settled into the culture and soon the way he dressed, his mannerisms, even his speech adopts the environment that he lives in and he begins to resemble that which is familiar to him. No longer is it nearly as easy to distinguish him from anyone else.
So it is with Christians that have not become disciples of Christ Jesus.
Salvation is a change. It transforms us into new creatures in Jesus through His blood. But if we don’t truly follow from that point forward we will assume the behavior and look of the world around us. The word disciple means one who follows Christ.
Discipleship is something that has been lost to the church over the years. Massive alter calls and mega churches are filled with people who made a commitment to Jesus that from the perspective of the world is meaningless.
It is meaningless to the world because we simply don’t appear different. The fact that the change that began when you gave your life to Christ has not continued, because we didn’t choose to become a disciple of Jesus.
There are only two possibilities that exist that we wouldn’t progress from that salvation experience to a Jesus following existence. The first one is that we were never told or taught that we needed to become disciples. The other is that we have chosen not to follow Jesus.
I want to follow Jesus
I would like to believe that the bulk of Christians that don’t appear different than the world, have not made a conscious choice to not emulate our Lord. I want to believe that.
Unfortunately, I know their are those who have done exactly that. They have looked at the path that Jesus points them to, and have determined that it would be easier, more beneficial, and cause less disruption to their lives if they just travel that roadway that everyone else uses.
They have become go along to get along Christians. Sadly they may be lost and the most in danger of the the Judgement of all humanity. Why do I say that?
I say this because there are a number of ‘fake Christians’ out there.
Fake because they assumed that if they got on board and got their ticket punched they were on their way to heaven. End of story. If they really didn’t surrender their lives to Jesus and just parroted the words they were prompted to say or claimed to joint the club of the redeemed, then they didn’t buy in to the whole package.
See, the change doesn’t take place unless the heart renders the words. It isn’t until we accept Christs gift of salvation and make him the Lord of our lives that this happens.
If Jesus is really Lord of someones life then they will be obedient to their Lord. If they really meant it, when they ran head long into Jesus telling them that to be His, required obedience, they would have obeyed. The very next thing He would have told them was to follow Him. If someone makes this commitment they could not do anything but follow Jesus because that is what Jesus calls us to do.
If you have committed your life to Christ you desire to follow Him. There is no middle ground. This is a binary choice.
So, if we truly desire to follow Jesus and we find we are more like the world than we are like Him the only other possibility is that we have not become a disciple of Christ and it is likely because they don’t know how to. It hasn’t been demonstrated to them the ‘how to’ of following Christ by people who are disciples themselves.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
Matthew 16:24-26 (NLT)
The words disciple and follower are almost interchangeable. The only real difference is that a follower can follow most anyone, but a disciple is going to be one who follows his Master.
What Jesus was saying here is pretty clear. If we want to be His Disciple, we have to abandon our own way. When He tells us to take up our cross that isn’t a thing made of wood, it the commitment to Jesus that we gave to this Lord of our lives when we accepted His gift of redemption through His Grace. And follow, be His disciple.
In the second half of this passage He explains that if we try to hold onto all the things of that past life, we are in jeopardy of losing our life, but if we really give up our life to Him, we gain it.
It’s that binary choice I spoke of. It isn’t made by saying a certain set of words. It isn’t secured by performing a given act. It isn’t limited to the confines of a particular building or place. It happens in the heart. A commitment that Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives and we acknowledge that authority because we recognize that we were bought with the price of His blood for our sins.
It started a change in you. Started! It should not stop at that point. It actually can not stop at that point if you truly mean He is Lord. If He is Lord you must acknowledge His authority in your life and obey Him. That paramount act of obedience is to follow Him. Follow the Master, be His disciple. You will become different.
Orange you different? If not, examine yourself. Look inside and ask if Jesus really is Lord of your life. If not, make it so today. If you really do feel that He is Lord, and your life isn’t different from the world around you, then you need to learn about following Him. Become the Disciple that He calls you to be and you will be different.
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
John 13:35 (NLT)
Be different. Be His Disciple!