We are called to be different.
These days many of us would prefer to melt into the crowd than to stand out as different. We would rather not stand out or bring attention to ourselves. But in truth, as Christians, we really should be different. Our lives should attract others to us. No, rather it should attract others to Christ.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10
I recently read these scriptures from 1 Peter. They always prick my heart and cause me to look deep to see if my life is indeed different. However, this time it seemed to have even more meaning. The reason is that it was brought to my attention to whom and when this was originally written.
Perspective Changes Things
It was written by Peter to the Christians in Rome around 60 AD. The emperor of Rome at that time was none other than Nero. You know the guy who let Rome burn. The guy who persecuted Christians horribly by placing animals skins on them and throwing them in with wild dogs to watch the dogs attack and devour them alive. Other times he dipped the Christians in wax, tied them to trees and burned them alive as candles for his evening parties.
When I think about the fact that Peter gave these strong instructions to persecuted Christians, I am ashamed that we are so timid to stand up for Christ because it may cost us something. We give in to the tiniest of temptations because we don’t want to be different or called out.
10 Ways to be Different
- Rid yourselves of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. (2:1)
- Crave the Word of God. (2:2-3)
- Abstain from sinful desires (2:11)
- Submit to EVERY human authority. (2:13-14) Notice it doesn’t say “If you agree with them”.
- Love the family of believers. (2:17)
- Fear God.
- Honor the emperor. (This was Nero remember?) Are we honoring our president?
- Submit to your masters. (2:18) Can we change the wording to ‘Submit to your boss?’ even when they are harsh
- It’s commendable to suffer for doing good. Persevere! (2:20-21)
- Don’t retaliate when threatened or insulted. (2:23)
This is the first of Peter’s instructions to the Christian in Rome.
He goes on to address the way we treat our husbands and wives. Peter tells us how we should treat one another, being kind and compassionate and understanding. And then there is the idea that we shouldn’t repay evil for evil. He tells us that Christ gave us the perfect example and we should follow His example giving up all of our so-called rights just as He did for us. He took on suffering and we should do the same.
That is how we stand out. We stand up for what is right paying the price no matter the cost just as Christ did. Let’s make a pact to start be different from the world. Ask God to help you live more like Him in the coming year. If we all join together to live different lives think of the difference it will make!
From one Christian to another, let’s do this!