As Christians, we are not “of this world.” We are called, sojourners, exiles, citizens of Heaven, a peculiar people, and a holy people. We are different and we are meant to stand out by our difference. Our distinction is not supposed to be by the t-shirts we wear or the bumper sticker on our cars, it is in our behavior, attitude, and love. We understand the profundity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are supposed to be like Jesus, not like the world.
The world is all about self-sufficiency, self-efficacy, pride, and strength. But the kingdom of God isn’t about that all. We depend on The Lord. In the kingdom of Heaven it is Jesus Christ we long to exalt. Even though He is God, He lived as the exemplification of humility. We point the world toward Jesus by living as He lived and loving as He loved. 1 John 2:9-11 reads,
Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
One way the world should see how peculiar we are is in our relationships with one another. Verses 1-7 reads,
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
The world’s idea of the marriage relationship, at least according to TV sitcoms is one of mutual battling of the wills, compromise, and a game with only one winner. Husbands on TV are power hungry buffoons and wives are manipulative shrews. While TV exaggerates for laughs, I do think that the world sees marriage as a struggle of control. But marriage in the kingdom of Heaven is the opposite. It is an example of our relationship with Jesus Christ, where the wife can submit, that is yield her will to her husband because she trusts his deep love for her. She knows he would never hurt her or desire anything bad for her. The husband can love his wife with an absolute, profound love because she is a precious gift from God, the weaker vessel, like a treasured Ming vase or beautiful Fabergé egg.
Women, being the weaker vessel is a beautiful thing, a compliment, not something to be ashamed of. Women are more sensitive. They are able to sympathize much more than men. It enables them to nurture, meet unstated needs, and care. It also means their hearts are more easily broken, and they should be handled with care. God sanctifies, that is matures men by asking them to love and care for the fragility of the women’s hearts. He sanctifies women by asking them to trust their hearts to men. Our sanctification comes through the exercise of that mutual submission and love both in marriage and in the church. Verses 8-12 read,
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For
“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
11 let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
People of the world take notice of real humility because it is so very different from what they understand as the road to success and a happy life. They pay attention to lives lived in an effort to do good, to obey Christ, and live so very differently than they understand. You see, the world is all about self-seeking, even in good deeds they honor themselves. But the kingdom of Heaven does good to honor Christ. In the kingdom of Heaven, good deeds are done as a natural expression of the Holy Spirit not as a way to earn good things for ourselves.
The world may want to hurt you if you go around proudly protesting everything about what you view as evil. I saw a post this morning hatefully declaring transgender people as insane. While we may see the brokenness of a person hating themselves to such a degree, the world doesn’t see it and arrogantly spouting statements like that is a very worldly thing to do. Do you imagine any person would come to Jesus because you tell him he’s an idiot? Those actions deservedly bring on fights and hate. Love would befriend that hurting soul. Love would teach him that God created him beautifully and that God loves him. Who could protest that? Who would want to hurt someone who did that? Verses 13-17 say,
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.
There might be people who still want to cause you to suffer even when you do nothing to them. We do not purposely go looking for hate. There are enough people who hate God already, we cannot give them reason to despise Him. The world is enslaved to Satan and most of them don’t have any idea about it. We can recognize Satan’s voice implanting thoughts in our minds, they don’t! So there will be those who want to hurt us for Jesus’ sake. Let it always be that and never because we warrant it.
Jesus suffered horrifically and He was completely innocent. He was put to death in the most torturous kind of death imaginable, not because he deserved it, but because we deserved it. He took it gladly. He never defended Himself. He endured it. If He underwent such awful suffering for us, we can withstand suffering for the sake of the lost too. When they see the hope in us that we don’t lose no matter what they do, they will notice, and they may even ask. That is when we offer a defense, not a defense for our bad actions, but a defense for the love and hope of Jesus Christ, a defense of the faith and the Gospel. Verses 18-22 read,
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
Jesus saved us from death. Just like Noah and his family were saved from the destruction the rest of the world experienced, we were saved from eternal death. The water of baptism is not what sanctifies or changes us, it is the choice to submit to God and ask Him to change us which allows Him to do it. After we are born again, we are new. We are no longer who we used to be like the world. We stand out. Our new character, our submissive spirit, grief for the world, meekness, desire for righteousness, mercy, purity, peacemaking and endurance that distinguishes us (Matthew 5:2-11). It is our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control which points the world to Jesus (Galatians 5:22-23).