Israel was called out from among the nations to be God’s chosen people – separate, beloved, holy, treasured – led by the King above all kings, yet Israel desired to be like all the other nations.
When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’… Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.”… And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” Deuteronomy 17:14; 1 Samuel 8:4, 19-20
They chose to forgo their unique, favored status so they could be more like their worldly counterparts, falling deeply into sin and rebellion. God gave Israel very specific mandates that they ignored and blended right in with the nations around them.
Crazy, right? Let’s be honest, how are believers different today? In many ways we want to be like our worldly counterparts. The distance between the church and the world has become narrower and narrower over the last few generations.
Ask yourself the question, “In what ways do I personally stand apart from the world, for the glory of God?” This is not standing apart, arms folded, nose-in-the-air, to appear holier-than-thou. That is NOT Jesus.
Nor am I talking about being quirky or odd, but rather holy, godly, practicing the gifts of the Holy Spirit and manifesting the presence of God in lives lived by faith. Being a shining light in a dark and broken world.
How do we balance being all things to all people while living as citizens of heaven?
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
…having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.… But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. Hebrews 12:13-14, 16; But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Philippians 3:20
Here are some thoughts to ponder:
- Am I more influenced BY the world than I am an influence IN the world?
- Are there ways I am compromising God’s Word?
- Are there ways I am misrepresenting Jesus?
- Do I prefer the world’s way?
- Does my life require reliance on the Holy Spirit or just my own wisdom and strength?
- Does my life make a difference for Christ in my circle of influence?
- How does my life point others to Jesus in word, attitude and action?
I invite you to have this conversation with God.
Diane Hunt serves part-time on the staff of America’s Keswick providing ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.