From Around Here

There I was, minding my own business, the third person from the front of the line at the local post office.  Actually, I was silently amused by the conversations going on around me.  The man behind me knew someone that the guy at the front of the line knew.  When the man in front was called to a window for service, the man behind me proceeded to speak to the woman in front of me.  I don’t think they knew each other, but it’s a little town in the s\South.  People talk to each other.

Once the woman in front of me was called up and I was next in line, the man behind me turned to me and said, “You’re not from around here, are you?”

He was right, of course.  But how did he know?  It wasn’t my accent that gave me away.  I hadn’t said anything about “soda” or accidentally let a “you guys” slip.  In fact, I hadn’t said a single word.  Maybe it was the way I was dressed.  Or maybe it was the fact that I hadn’t said anything to anyone.  I don’t know.  But somehow, the man behind me could spot that I didn’t fit in.

Isn’t that how it is supposed to work for Christians?  We can live in the same place as everyone else in the world but there should be something about us that makes us stick out as outsiders.  We are to be “aliens and strangers” (I Pet. 2:11).

Only, in our case, it shouldn’t be too hard to put our finger on what makes us different.  

Our love should be superior (Mt. 5:43-47).  The world loves those who love them.  Christians, on the other hand, are to love even their enemies.  That sort of behavior sticks out.

Our behavior should be obviously different.  While the rest of the world follows after their lusts (I Pet. 4:2) we are supposed to live for the will of God.  That means, no more “sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries” (I Pet. 4:3).  Paul agrees with Peter on this, stating that we should not behave like those who “do not know God” (I Thes. 4:5).  While the world pursues lustful passions, we are to be sanctified and “abstain from sexual immorality” (I Thes. 4:3).

It seems fair to say that our speech should also be different.  Some speech just isn’t “fitting” for a Christian (Eph. 5:4).  We might not be surprised to find filthy language in the world, but the Christian needs to learn to bridle his tongue (Jam. 1:26).  But it’s more than just a lack of filthy speech that should distinguish us.  We should boldly declare our faith and allegiance to Jesus (Rom. 10:9-10; Mt. 10:32-33).  When Peter and John spoke that way, the hearers “began to recognize them as having been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).  They stuck out.  Do we?

What we wear should probably make a difference too.  Paul and Peter both (while admittedly speaking to women) point out that it matters what Christians wear (I Tim. 2:9-10; I Pet. 3:3-4).  While the world focuses on look-at-me attire, Christians should instead wear clothing that displays our claim to godliness (I Tim. 2:10).  Rather than an external focus, we should emphasize good works and our inner character (I Pet. 3:4).

Ever since we were teenagers, most of us have had a strong inner desire to fit in.  We spoke like our friends, dressed like our friends, and acted like our friends.  But as followers of Christ, we should be most concerned about pleasing Jesus.  He’s the one we should fit in with.

If the world doesn’t ever look at you and think, “You’re not from around here, are you?” then maybe we should be concerned that we actually are from around here.  If we aren’t different from the world, can we be right with God?