A very commonly reference scripture, that is thrown around for a myriad of reasons, is “be in the world, not of it”. We use the scripture to explain why we are to behave differently, talk differently, act & react differently than non-believers. For many it becomes a badge of honor, when ever they are living a “holy” life. This holy life can be everything from not EVER using a curse word, drinking a drink, homeschooling their kids, dressing your kids in certain attire, not watching television, listening to only classic hymnals vs. contemporary praise music, Christian private schooling, demanding church attendance or service, etc.
So, if you have your daughters, dressed with their long hair in buns, no make up, dresses to their ankles, sleeves to their wrists and collars as high as their jaw line…. and someone of the faith says “hey, why do you do that?” — Your defense is “Duh, because we are to be in the world, not of it.”
And then, you (or I) will get offended that we even needed to say something to explain why we are so “different”.
Now before you get upset with me, just set that aside for a moment.
In the world of tattoos, it’s a common to hear complaints about being treated differently because you have a tattoo. Same could be said of dying your hair a different color, or choosing to dress a certain way. You’ll find this same mentality amongst anyone who chooses to be “different” than the status quo.
It’s an interesting paradox. We act differently or look differently than the rest of society, yet we want to be treated the same way. We purposefully go out of our way to be different, yet get offended when someone dares to ask us about it, comment about it (especially negatively), or even goes so far as to mock us for it.
As Christians, we make the conscious decision to be IN the world, not OF the world… and then take offense when that gets noticed & talked about. And yes, I could agree that we shouldn’t HAVE to explain ourselves, but when you choose to be different you are choosing to defend that choice too.
Going a bit deeper, there are two reasons why we are not to be IN the world, that is behaving, acting, thinking, talking, spending, et’al like the rest of the world.
1) It’s about our personally holiness. If we do not allow ourselves to be put into places of temptation, we are actively working against sin. No one will be sin free, Jesus was the only perfect person. However, we can greatly diminish our sin capacity by removing ourselves from things “of this world”.
2) It’s about reflecting Christ to others. Others will take note of that difference in us, and thus are pointed to Christ. Why, we do something becomes more important than the actual act itself. When others notice that difference in us, it will cause conversation. In those conversations, we are able to plant seeds.
Will we be mocked? Certainly. Jesus, himself, was mocked. But, there will be those who are drawn to that difference & want to understand more.
So, when you choose to be “different”… be confident in that decision. What ever you are doing (or not doing) is a conviction, laid upon you by the Holy Spirit. There will be those who don’t understand… and some who don’t even want to understand. And that, is ok. You cannot expect the world at large to understand, accept or respect that difference. It’s almost like you are speaking a different language.
It’s equally important to remember that how you respond to those critics is being watched too. It not only blemishes us, but also the reflection of Christ in us.
We may hate having to explain ourselves, over and over again. We need to examine the circumstances of our situation. If it is a new person, then we have to remember that while we may have repeated this info a million times in our lifetime, it may be their first time hearing it (or attempting to understand it). If this is someone we KEEP having this conversation with, yes it is frustrating, but if they are still asking… they care. They are trying to understand, and yes… they may be even trying to convince you to change your mind.
We know that the things God asks of us as a group of believers, or individually, will be tested. There will be those who speak against us. How many called Noah a food for building an ark.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if they understand. It only matters that we are obedient. The choice to be angry, defensive, etc … that is your choice. Instead of being surprised or upset by it, choose to anticipate the questions and reactions. It takes the sting out & you are more likely to respond positively to the negative reactions of others.
“Obedience does not require understanding.” (The Matrix, Reloaded)