“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving… at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Ephesians 5:1-4,8-11
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-16
We are different from the world in fact, because we are God’s beloved children, yet though we own this distinct spiritual identity, we are called to live it practically so others can see the proof that it is so. Our imitation of Christ has many manifestations that give obvious evidence to our other-ness.
While the list of Christ-like behaviors seems arduous, even impossible under the limitations of our frail flesh and the forces working against us, our Paraclete is Jesus Himself. He not only models how to live, but is in us the very power to live that way. He never demands what He does not enable. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
When our sensual inclination is to indulge self, the Lord says ‘offer yourselves as a living sacrifice,’ and enables us to renounce worldly passions. When our deceitful heart puffs us with self-importance and we deem others inferior or unlovely, Jesus says ‘love, lay down your life,’ and sheds His love abroad in our hearts. When we are bombarded with inane, degrading, or corrupt entertainment, we are called to choose differently and instead for what is noble and lovely. Jesus grants power, wisdom, and righteousness. When we are offered morsels of gossip that diminish others or harm reputations, it may be difficult to refuse the bait, to change the subject to what is pure and upbuilding. But God gives grace and courage to say no, to expose falsehoods and complaints, to be light penetrating dark places. (Jeremiah 17:9; John 15:13; Romans 5:5; 12:1; 1 Corinthians 1:24,30; Philippians 4:8; Titus 2:11-12)
In what instances and places will we dare to be the different people we are? Where can we infuse lofty ideas into vapid conversation? Where will we interject thanksgiving into the common drone of blame and complain? How can we speak spiritual blessing into the curse of negativity? To whom will we offer peace to allay anxiety, mercy to vanquish shame, loving interest to dispel loneliness, confession to dissolve bitterness, forgiveness to resolve fear? From what practices or temptations do we need to come out and be separate, in order to display God’s magnificent name? (John 17:14-16; 2 Corinthians 6:17)
Lord, may I bravely be different from the world, even as I dwell herein. May my life show that I am Yours and You are mine. (Song of Solomon 6:3)