All these people were still living by faith when they died…admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. (Hebrews 11:13, NIV)
Do you ever feel like a foreigner and stranger on earth? In America — and many other countries — only a minority of people today:
- Attend church service at least once monthly.
- Pray at least once daily.
- Read the Bible at least once weekly.
- Believe the Bible is God’s Word that should be taken literally.
- Look primarily to the Bible to decide right and wrong.
- Talk about their spiritual beliefs.
While living for God brings us far more life, it may also leave us feeling like an outsider. Bible-based perspectives are not welcome in many conversations. Asking questions that reveal a Biblical worldview can lead to rejection or ridicule. Sharing a Bible-derived moral stance can get us cancelled. As we examine the Scriptures, we find this explanation for many of those experiences:
But the person who is not a Christian does not understand these words from the Holy Spirit. He thinks they are foolish. He cannot understand them because he does not have the Holy Spirit to help him understand. (I Corinthians 2:14, NLV)
In order to understand God’s ways you must be connected to God. Most people who do not have a relationship with Him will not value His perspectives and instructions. So when we base our decisions, morals, and values on the Bible, we stand out from many around us.
Jesus stood out in His culture, too. He said, “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44) to people whose country was occupied by a foreign ruler. He said wrong thoughts are as sinful as wrong actions (Mark 7:20-23) to people who had over 600 rules governing their behavior. He built relationships with people who were unpopular and scorned (Mark 2:16-17). His focus was on fulfilling God’s plan for Him, not fitting in.
For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. (John 6:38, NIV)
Jesus knew His message would resonate with some and offend others (John 6:60-69), so he was not swayed by people’s reactions to the content. He continued to share the truth with those whom God drew, but did not try to convince those who were not interested in His message (Matthew 10:14). He told His disciples to expect rejection and persecution — even from their own families.
I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. (Matthew 10:16-17, NIV)
Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:21-22 and Mark 13:11-13, NIV)
Many people — including religious people — rejected Jesus during His lifetime. Today many people believe Jesus was a good teacher, a wise man, maybe even a prophet, but they do not believe He was God in the flesh. But Jesus’ own words left no question about His identity:
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” (John 4:25-26, NIV)
The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me…I and the Father are one.” (John 10:24-25, 30, NIV)
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV)
We are called to represent Christ to those around us. So how do we live out far more life in a culture that is hostile toward God and the authority of His Word?
Far more life allows us to demonstrate God’s character, love, and power. When we are put under pressure of criticism, rejection, or persecution, people expect us to respond with hate, anger, revenge, or condemnation. But through God’s Spirit we are able to respond with truth, love, and forgiveness. We stand out as we represent Christ with integrity.
Far more life speaks the truth in love to those who are open to hearing it. We know that many of the problems our society faces are actually spiritual problems. We also know that only God offers the peace, joy, purpose, and fulfillment people are seeking. We stand out by speaking the truth in love, whether it is accepted or rejected.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (I Peter 3:15, NIV)
Far more life remembers who the enemy is…and is not. We may feel attacked or be accused of attacking others. We stand out when we remember the spiritual forces at work around us and focus on glorifying God:
We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. (Ephesians 6:12, CEV)
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4, NIV)
Far more life either attracts or repels people. As we live authentically for Christ, people will notice and respond. Praise God for those who find far more life!
For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. (2 Corinthians 2:15-16, NIV)
How do you stand out for your faith?
Where are you afraid to stand out?
Ask God for courage and wisdom to fully embrace far more life and stand out for Him.