Question: If someone were describing you to a crowd, what would they say?
You might hope to hear words like: successful, friendly, courageous, brilliant, hard-working, respected, thoughtful, creative, influential. But what about different? Different can feel lonely, awkward, and well—different. Different often gets a bad rap, but there’s actually freedom in standing on uncommon ground. You might not feel it, but often, different is better.
For 2,000 years, Christians have been faced with the unique challenge of engaging popular culture without becoming just like it. Jesus didn’t call us to blend in, but to stand out—just like He did. That’s why we will do anything short of sin to reach people who don’t know Christ. To reach those no one is reaching, we will have to do things no one else is doing.
As the author, creator, and designer of this world, God knows how life works best. He doesn’t want you merely to survive your days on earth, but to thrive and point to Him. We can live with a different mission and kingdom in mind. A kingdom that’s not of this world.
So how should we respond when the rubber meets the road? Imagine these scenarios.
Scenario 1: You’re on a third date. It’s going well. It’s time to go, but your date starts hinting at sex. What would you do?
Casual sex—or even more committed sex—before marriage might be fun or feel meaningful and normal today, but fun and normal isn’t what we’re called to. Too many relationships are scarred with shame, mistrust, and unnecessary emotional and sexual baggage. God designed couples to enjoy flourishing sexual intimacy inside of the beautiful framework and mutual intimacy of a God-honoring marriage. Different is better. (See 1 Peter 1:14-15.)
Scenario 2: Your neighbor’s yard hasn’t been mowed in forever. You see them getting their mail. They wave at you like nothing’s wrong. What would you do?
It might be tempting to complain to other neighbors, report the issue to your local HOA, or even call the city to “take care of it.” But Jesus calls us to a higher standard of loving our neighbors like ourselves. How would you want to be treated? What would you want you to do? Their tall grass may be about more than their tall grass. Ask them how they’re doing. If you discover a need, offer to help with something specific. After you’ve spent some time showing you care, kindly offer to mow their grass and see what God does. Different is better. (See 1 Peter 2:21.)
Scenario 3: You’re out to dinner with friends. The conversation takes a sharp turn, lashing out against someone who’s not there. What would you do?
It’s sometimes easier to laugh, remain silent, or even join in when someone’s not there to defend themselves. A little gossip amongst friends might seem harmless or even hilarious, but it’s not. Your secret, snarky comments about others prove you’re someone who makes secret, snarky comments about others! Ouch. We’re called to love others—whether they’re present or not—and we’re commanded to put our God and His people ahead of our own entertainment and reputations. Different is better. (See 1 Peter 3:10-11.)
Scenario 4: Your co-worker offers to fudge the results on your latest project, making you look like a hero in front of the boss. What would you do?
It seems like we constantly get the option to choose integrity or selfishness. Will I choose to honor Christ with integrity or try to get honor for myself? When you live with integrity, nothing else matters. When you don’t live with integrity, nothing else matters. There are no shortcuts to building character, but God rewards those who seek Him and obey Him. In the end, this one is about deciding whether or not you trust God to come through. Different is better. (See 1 Peter 5:6.)
Scenario 5: You’re alone on a business trip. While responding to work emails in the hotel room, a risqué pop-up appears on the screen. What would you do?
While pornography might not seem harmful at first glance, it’s a self-destructing habit that distorts God’s design for men, women, and sexual intimacy inside of marriage. Not to mention the billion-dollar sex industry (pornography, prostitution, sex trafficking) that benefits from devaluing people into lust objects. Incredible, love-filled, and meaningful sex inside of marriage is far better than anything on a screen. If you’re already struggling with porn addiction, there’s hope. Different is better. (See 1 Peter 2:11.)
Remember, this world is not your home. You were meant to be different. Be the reason why different is better!