My teenage daughters and I were recently discussing how it seems to be getting more difficult to differentiate between a believer and an unbeliever. Sure, we as followers of Christ make mistakes, and by God’s merciful grace, are forgiven.
We pray for His guidance and direction and that we will learn from that mistake and grow in Him. We struggle from day-to-day to live for Him. To love Him with all our hearts, souls, and minds, to love our neighbors, pray for our enemies, make good choices, and reach a lost world for Jesus Christ.
No one, not even a longtime Christian, is even close to being perfect. We will never achieve perfection in this world.
But what about those who profess to be a Christian, but aren’t living for Him and really have no desire to do so? What about the very real possibility that we, as those who profess belief in Christ, are looking oddly similar to the world – the very world we are to be set apart from?
Consider these commonly seen actions in our world today:
Climbing the ladder/selfish ambition. Do anything to get to the top, no matter who is stepped on or shoved aside in the process
Backbiting/backstabbing. If someone dislikes us, disagrees with us, has a difference of opinion, then it is perfectly acceptable to backbite, backstab, accuse, and do what you can to destroy their reputation.
The “importance” of sharing information. Why not share what you know about people – or what you think you know – even if it’s not true?
Wealth. He or she who has the most money should for sure be the most popular. After all, the poorer person can’t donate money to your cause like the wealthy one can. An added bonus?
They can buy you things. Befriend those who profit you the most.
Looks are critical. Because our world values youth, thinness, and nice clothes, those who are a little plump, a little wrinkled, a little old, or a little bit ugly really aren’t as important.
Focus on self. Really, when it all comes down to it, is there any room left in the mirror for anyone but ourselves?
Popularity. He or she who is most popular wins. Why side with an “underdog” if it doesn’t further our own agenda?
Christianity is a crutch. Really, who needs to believe in an old book with old verses and stories in it when we can believe what our modern writers/philosophers say?
Lie to get what you want. Honesty is so overrated.
Win at all costs. If you need to pick a fight, go ahead. Prove you’re right.
Never forgive. What they did was wrong and they will pay!
Sadly, the above traits are not limited to some secular people. And by some, I mean that I have many unbelieving friends who are kind, loving, compassionate, and generous who don’t subscribe to the above list. Far too often, unbelievers who don’t know the hope found in Jesus Christ behave better than Christians.
However, I also know some believers who are manipulative, hateful, critical gossipers.
Friends, this should not be so.
Contrast the following to the above:
Taking the low rung on the ladder and be happy for others when they succeed.
Letting our words build others up, rather than tearing them down (Ephesians 4:29).
Avoiding gossip as it is the surest way to hurt someone.
Remembering we can’t serve two masters. We will either love God or money. (Matthew 6:24).
Focusing on what is on the inside. In First Samuel 16:7b, we learn that while man looks at the outward appearance, the Lord looks at the heart.
Putting others as more important than ourselves.
Rooting for the underdog. In the Bible, there are several underdogs God uses including David, Gideon, and Moses.
Christianity is not a crutch. It is the Truth.
God values honesty.
Strife and discord are among the things the Lord hates.
Jesus forgave us for all of the times we sin (which are many!)
Revenge is God’s, not ours.
Quite the difference when we compare list to list. Yet, as I write this, many Christians are struggling with being hurt by fellow believers. Other believers may be struggling with they themselves making poor choices that hurt others.
Let’s give unbelievers a reason to want to know Christ. Let’s not blend in with the world and be like them, but let’s rather be set apart for Him. Let there be a difference between us and our unbelieving neighbor.
We must show – and be- the difference to a dying world.