Friday, August 31, 2007

Different is good – a lesson from history

Why did Christianity survive and even flourish in the first century? In addition to the will of God, was it because it allowed itself to fit into the world system and the culture? Absolutely not! It is precisely because it did not fit-in that caused it to survive.

The fact that the early Christians wouldn’t engage in much of the popular activities of the day because sin was often present and then they were actually willing to die instead of worshipping the Emperor, made people stand-up and take serious notice of this new thing called Christianity. Yes they were persecuted and considered outcasts, but at the same time Christianity grew like wildfire and many came to the Lord.

We can learn something from this early New Testament church history - different is good. In fact, being different is the best thing we can be. Followers of Christ are not supposed to be at peace with the world or even desire it. In fact Jesus said that we cannot serve God and mammon. He also said that the world will hate you because they hated me first.

Many Christians believe that the church must embrace the world, be relevant, and be friendly with the world in order for it to survive and flourish. If we show them that we are really not that different, then they will be interested in us – wrong. This approach will make Christianity indistinguishable from the world and therefore completely irrelevant.

Let’s take a lesson from history and boldly be different. Not for the sake of being different or just to be hated. Rather, because as fully devoted followers of Christ we cannot go where the world goes and we cannot do what the world does. We are called to be aliens and we need to be at peace with that.

Here’s the interesting reality, the world is looking for something real and different. When we try to fit in, we are not making Christianity more interesting, instead we are making it trivial and boring. It is Christ himself, love for God and others, and our willingness to follow him even though it makes us very different that will make the world stand up, take notice, and actually start asking why. Contrary to the growing popular belief of making every attempt to be “relevant” and to fit Christianity into the culture, I say let’s be what we are, different is good, and this difference is what will actually “add many to our number daily”.

4 comments:

Brian said...

As you stated, I agree that we should "be what we are." In other words, we need to just "be ourselves." This is genuine and we will be more approachable to others- both Christians and nonbelievers.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your points -- we are called to be different than the world. Some of the things you spoke out about reminded me of an article that was written in 2000 about the more modern history of the church:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/november13/5.62.html

Anonymous said...

It appears part of the link was lost above. This is the full address to the church history article:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/november13/5.62.html

Anonymous said...

OK ... I guess the address above won't fit? Add this to the end of the above link to get the article cited:

/5.62.html