Christians Are Different
Romans 12: 2
William Shakespeare once said: " Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good
we oft might win, By fearing to attempt."
When Jesus touched a leper, He didn't get leprosy -- He changed the leper.
The question is: "Today, when Christians touch the world, does the world get Christianity,
or do we get spiritual leprosy?"
Are Christians different from other people?
God's word states in 2 Corinthians 5: 17: "If any man is found in Christ, he is a new creation.
Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new."
As Christians, we become new creatures created for good works. (Ephesians 2:10)
In the past we serve ourselves, but now we are serving God and others; and it is a joy for us.
Once we looked at the boundary between good and bad so we can walk the line,
but now we try to find the best path to walk.
The word the Bible uses for Christians are faithful, overcomers, and conquerors.
The Bible doesn't talk about just struggling with sin, but about overcoming it.
Christians ought to be constantly getting better.
Old bad habits should be replaced with new good habits.
Sins which once held us in chains should no longer have dominion over us.
This is the Bible's picture of a regenerated person.
We must dare to be different.
Christians are different from non-Christians.
The problem comes when we are afraid to admit that we are different.
We don't like for others to make fun of us.
And we don't like to be ignored.
The in-crowd makes it clear that if you are going to act like a Christian they're not going
to have anything to do with you.
And if you are a Christian, and you live like them; they will not respect you.
We must have boldness and courage, to not only admit that we are Christians,
but we should be pleased and thankful that we are.
When others ridicule you because you are not sophisticated, don't be tempted to pretend
that you are as cynical and immoral as they are.
Sophisticated means worldly-wise, well-versed in the things of the world.
For a Christian to be called naive and unsophisticated (or innocent) is a compliment to the Christian.
Consider the alternative!
On the other hand, Christians should not be different just for the sake of being different.
We don't need to wear long white robes or have crosses tattooed on our chests.
We don't want to be eccentric, which means "off center"; we want to be Christ-centered.
So, how can we be different without being weird or self-righteous?
First, for a Christian who wants to be different is if God tells you to do something,
do it -- whether your friends can see a reason for it or not.
We must live our lives based on a firm belief in God's power, that God can perform
what He commands us to do.
The next rule on how to be different for a Christian is to never compromise.
In the movie, Chariots Of Fire, Eric Liddell's father correctly says,
"Compromise is the language of the devil."
Jesus said, "The gates of hell will not overcome [the church]."
Given this guarantee that our enemy will not overcome us, why should we compromise?
Compromise is flirting with the devil.
Ahab, David, and the apostles provide us examples of how not to compromise.
Look at the bad example of Ahab.
Ben-Haddad attacked the nation of Israel while Ahab was king.
The first year he was defeated, but he came again the next spring.
He insulted God by saying, "Their gods are gods of the hills, so we will attack in the plains."
As a result, God again allowed Ahab to defeat the Armenian army.
God even delivered Ben-Haddad up to Ahab.
Ahab, as was his custom most of the time, forgot to ask God what to do with his prisoner.
Ben-Haddad came to Ahab in sack-cloth, pleading for mercy.
Ahab was very generous with Ben-Haddad and gave him his life in return for some cities
and a trade agreement.
God sent a prophet to Ahab.
The prophet came disguised as an Israelite soldier.
As Ahab passed, the prophet called out, "Your servant went into the thick of the battle,
and someone came to me with a captive and said, 'Guard this man.
If he is missing, it will be your life for his life or you must pay a talent of silver.
While your servant was busy here and there, the man disappeared.' " (1 Kings 20: 39, 40)
Ahab told him, "You have pronounced your own sentence."
Then the prophet revealed himself to Ahab and delivered his message:
"This is what the Lord says, 'You have set free a man I had determined should die.
Therefore, it is your life for his life, your people for his people." (Verse 42)
Ahab compromised with an enemy who God had determined to destroy, and look what happened to him.
Remember, Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil.
We must not make deals with the devil.
Then, look at the good example of David.
David, King of Israel, decided to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem.
In his zeal and joy, he leaped and danced before the Lord dressed in a white linen robe and an ephod.
His wife saw him leaping and dancing in front of the ark of the Lord, and she despised him in her heart.
The minute she had the chance, she rebuked him for appearing in public without his proper kingly attire.
David answered, "It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or any one from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord's people -- Israel -- I will celebrate before the Lord.
I will become even more undignified then this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes."
(2 Samuel 6: 21, 22)
David was doing the will and work of the Lord.
He told his wife that if she thought this was bad, he was willing to be even worse for the sake of God.
Compromise says, "Oh, you object to this?
Well, I'm sorry, and I'll never do it again."
Boldness says, "You object to this?
I am doing this to serve God in heaven.
I will do so even more!"
Then, there are the good examples of the apostles.
We think of the apostles as being so bold, but even they prayed for boldness.
Peter and John reported to the rest of the believers in Jerusalem what had happened
and they all raised their voices in prayer.
They asked for boldness to speak the Lord's Word.
And God gave it to them.
The Spirit of God shook the house and filled them all and they "spoke the Word of God boldly."
Think God for the difference!
We know we are different because we are Christians, but what good does it do?
Being different is good because being different makes a difference.
Christians are the salt and the light of the world.
Salt is different from meat, and that is as it should be because salt seasons meat and salt preserves meat.
Meat won't season itself.
If the salt becomes just like the meat, it is useless as salt.
Light drives away darkness.
Darkness cannot drive away itself.
"If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness?" (Matthew 6: 23)
Being different is also good because it pleases God.
God's constant refrain throughout the middle chapters of Leviticus is "Be holy because I am holy."
(Leviticus 11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:7, 26)
God called Israel "A kingdom of priests and a holy nation." (Exodus 19: 6)
Israel was to be a people set apart for God.
God wanted them to be different from the nations around them,
and God gave them laws to ensure that they would stay that way.
He gave them circumcision.
He gave them special dietary laws.
He gave them laws against eating blood.
He gave them laws against marrying close relatives.
All these made Israel different from their neighbors.
Peter renews the refrain for Gentile Christians in his first letter:
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God."
(1 Peter 2: 9)
God also wants us to set ourselves apart from the people around us.
But, where Israel was a distinct nation, Christians are spread throughout the nations.
Where God gave Israel circumcision as a physical sign of their uniqueness;
our circumcision is a circumcision of the heart. (Romans 2:29)
Where Israel had their law inscribed on tables of stone,
we, Christians, have that same law inscribed on our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
You Can't Win If You Don't Run!
In the movie, Chariots Of Fire, one big scene is the match up between the two fastest men in Great Britain.
Harold Abraham of England and Eric Liddell of Scotland.
Abraham, surprised at Liddell's speed, commits the cardinal sin in short distance running.
He turns his head near the end of the race to see whether he or Liddell is ahead.
That cost him a fraction of a second, and he loses the race.
Abraham had never been beaten before.
After the race, he sits in the gallery totally discouraged, going over and over the race in his mind.
His girlfriend tries to encourage him, but Abraham is determined to feel sorry for himself.
In his bitterness, he says that he would quit running.
When his girlfriend tries to rebuke him for his foolishness, he bursts out,
"If I can't win, I won't run."
She snaps back, "If you don't run, you can't win."
When we dare to compete rather than cooperate with the world, we can win.
The gates of hell cannot prevail against us.
One Christian doing the work of God can stand against the world and win.
Why do we Christians so often act like losers?
Why do we so often assume that we will never make a difference, no matter what we do?
Why do we consult the polls and popular opinion instead of consulting God.
It is shameful, but it is true that the enemies of God often have more courage for their cause than we do.
While we Christians whisper; the opposition shouts.
We don't have to use their strong-armed tactics, but we can at least show as much confidence
in our God as they have in their idols.
We can make a difference in the world -- not on our own, but with the power of the Holy Spirit.
But first, we must truly be regenerated, then, we must be totally committed to our great God.
We can make a difference if we dare to do for the glory of God!
In the musical "Man of La Mancha", Quixote explains his quest and the reasons behind it,
and in doing so sings of doing the impossible.
"To dream ... the impossible dream ...
To fight ... the unbeatable foe ...
To bear ... with unbearable sorrow ...
To run ... where the brave dare not go ...
To right ... the unrightable wrong ...
To love ... pure and chaste from afar ...
To try ... when your arms are too weary ...
To reach ... the unreachable star ...
This is my quest, to follow that star ...
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far ...
To fight for the right, without question or pause ...
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause ...
And I know if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest,
That my heart will lie will lie peaceful and calm,
when I'm laid to my rest ...
And the world will be better for this:
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach ... the unreachable star ..."
-- Lyrics by Joe Darion
If there were ever a time to dare, to make a difference -- it is now!
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White