I know what it feels like to stand out—not for something I did but for just being different. When I served in West Africa for two years, I wanted very badly to sing in the church choir. I’d always participated in my home church and longed to be part of my new church choir as well.
When I look back at the pictures, I see just how much I stood out as the only white person in the group. It was easy to look at the choir and spot the foreigner.
Yet, in Christ, we become strangers and foreigners in a strange land. It doesn’t have to be because of our skin color or the way we look but from our actions and words. This also doesn’t mean we have to go to a different culture to realize this phenomenon. The more our western cultures secularize and become antagonistic toward all things Christian, the more we stand out for Jesus.
Peter wrote believers to:
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.1 Peter 2:12 NIV
When we conform to God’s will and way, we become non-conformists to the ways of the world. This can bring an immediate backlash, but also a great opportunity for witness. As we do good works to God’s glory, people may hate us or call us all kinds of names, but they cannot deny the good they see or doubt it comes from the God we claim to serve.
As William Law wrote, this takes a focus on the part of the Christian:
The devout…consider God in everything, serve God in everything, and make every aspect of their lives holy by doing everything in the name of God and in a way that conforms to God’s glory.William Law, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life
Are you holy? You are if you bring God glory by the way you live. Why? Because it sets you apart (the definition for holy) from the world. Don’t let the isolation get you down, but praise God for allowing you to suffer to the glory of his name.
Grace and Peace