Do you stand out?
This past week Peyton had a doctor’s appointment. The plan was to meet at the office. If you know Peyton, you know he was late. The receptionist said, “Can you let me know when he gets here?” My response was, “Sure. But you’ll know. He’s the kid with the blonde Afro.” When he arrived, I didn’t have to say anything. She knew.
Why did she know who Peyton was? Because there aren’t a lot of kids with blonde Afros these days. During games, friends could find him quicker by simply looking for the hair if his helmet was off. It is part of who he is. It’s become part of his distinctive identity at this point.
As Christians, we are told that we should be distinctively different. Paul wrote:
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” —Romans 12:1–2
Notice he says not to be conformed to the world. The word conform is defined by Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary as “to give the same shape, outline, or contour to.” If you conform to the world, that means you are becoming just like the world. You are taking on the shape of the world.
In contrast, Paul says our minds should be transformed. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines transform as “to change in composition or structure.”
There is an intended contrast presented here by Paul. He warns the disciples to avoid becoming like the world around them. Instead, they should change their minds and be different.
In other words, Christians stand out. How?
Christians don’t stand out because they have a different hair cut. Christians don’t stand out because they all wear clothes similar to Amish. Christians don’t stand out because they all read the exact same bible translation. That’s not what Paul is saying. He is not encouraging disciples to find some way to be odd or weird enough that people take notice.
Christians stand out because they do what is good, acceptable, and perfect. Christians stand out because their behavior mirrors the will of God. Christians stand out because they don’t just talk about faith, they live it.
Jesus said it this way:
““You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” —Matthew 5:13–16
What about you? Are you distinct? Are you different from the world around you? If not, why not?