It’s tough to be different.

We are always under pressure to conform to the dominant culture around us.

At one time, Christians dominated society in Europe and North America.  Sometimes, Christians persecuted non-believers, a sorry chapter in the history of the faith.

Now, the shoe is on the other foot.  Christian values are often derided and attacked today – in our schools and in newspapers, television shows, books and films.

In this atmosphere, it is hard to stand out, to take a different stand.  We don’t want to lose friendships or prompt laughter.

But, as I wrote in an earlier post, Christians in other parts of the world are willing to be different, even if it costs them their lives.

Our best example, of course, is Christ himself.  He went against the religious establishment simply by speaking the word of God.  His parables and sayings were subversive in the eyes of the Pharisees and Sadducees and the Roman authorities.

Christianity is still subversive.  Many people refuse to accept that there is an absolute standard of good and evil.  They reject the idea that there is a God and that we are called to worship him.

Christ knew that there would always be opposition to his message – a message of love and hope to those who believe, but an offence to those who don’t.

His immediate followers knew that, too.  The apostle Peter said in 1 Peter 1:17 that we are “foreigners in the land”.  Paul said that “we are citizens of heaven” (Philippians 3:20).  The idea is that we are different because we belong to Jesus.

The question, of course, is how are we to be different?

Sometimes, it means speaking truth as Christ did when the Pharisees tried to trap him.

Sometimes, it means loving people that others despise – as Jesus did.

Sometimes, it means speaking boldly about the good news that Jesus brought.

Sometimes, it means accepting hurts without fighting back – as Jesus did on the night of his crucifixion.

All of these are big challenges for me – a person who hates conflict.

But if Christ had taken the easy way out, I would not have the great gift he has given me.  Nor would billions of other believers.


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