There’s an old saying that goes like this: “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” While this saying may seem like a contradiction, there certainly is some truth to it. Take the Bible for example. The differences in language, culture and government that you find in the Bible might lead you to believe that the people of the Old and New Testaments were very different from people today.
In fact, it’s easy to think that people today are much more advanced and sophisticated than the people of Biblical times. Of course, some things are very different today and it can be pretty funny to imagine how Biblical personalities such as Moses, David or John the Baptist might react to the common everyday conveniences we enjoy today such as telephones, computers and television sets.
However, while many things have changed since the days of the Bible, it’s also true that there is much that has remained the same. You see, while things have changed a great deal from the days of the Bible, it seems that people haven’t changed all that much. This can be illustrated from a little passage found within the Biblical book of Ezekiel written around 575 BC. In Ezekiel 20:32, we see God repeating something that His people -the nation of Israel- were saying: “‘You say, “We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world, who serve wood and stone.”
If you think about it, this is very similar to the same kind of thing that God’s people often say today, isn’t it? After all, just about everyone wants to “fit in” with others, right? Everyone certainly likes to feel like they “belong” don’t they? But what happens when a Christian tries to fit in with others who aren’t interested in God or living the kind of lifestyle that honors Him? Well, it usually means that there will be some conflict because it’s often very difficult to be someone who honors God in a group where everyone else couldn’t care less about Him.
The Doctor has often heard from Christians who say that they are tired of feeling as if they are the only one who follows God at their school or on the job. They get tired of feeling like they are one of the few people on the planet who isn’t sleeping with a girlfriend or boyfriend. They get tired of being talked about and made fun of because they are serious about Jesus. In situations like this, it’s easy to say, “I just want to be like everyone else- I just want to fit in” or as the Bible says, “You say, ‘We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world…'” Perhaps you’ve even felt this way yourself.
While it might be tempting to think about how easy everything would be if you were “just like everyone else,” have you ever considered what God’s response is to that kind of thinking?
You see, when God’s people were entertaining these kinds of thoughts in the book of Ezekiel, God responded to them through the prophet by saying, “‘You say, ‘We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world…’ But what you have in mind will never happen” (Ezekiel 20:32 NIV). Did you catch that last part? When the people of Ezekiel’s day decided that “fitting in” was more important than following God, God responded to them by saying, “No way.”
This kind of response is one that even The Doctor is familiar with. You see, when The Doctor was young, there were many times when he tried to justify his actions by saying, “Hey, everybody else is doing the same thing so it must be OK”. During these times, The Doctor’s mother would often respond by saying, “Sorry- you’re not ‘everybody else.'”
What did she mean by that? Well, what she was saying was this: “You’re different; you are not just like everybody else- and because you are not like everybody else, you can’t do something just because ‘everybody else’ is doing it.”
In a sense, God says this very same thing to those who wish to follow Him: “You’re special, you’re different; you can’t be like everybody else because you are not like everybody else.” 1 Peter 2:9-12 explains it like this…
“…you have been chosen by God himself– you are priests of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God’s very own– all this so that you may show to others how God called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were less than nothing; now you are God’s own. Once you knew very little of God’s kindness; now your very lives have been changed by it. Dear (friends), you are only visitors here.
Since your real home is in heaven, I beg you to keep away from the evil pleasures of this world; they are not for you, for they fight against your very souls. Be careful how you behave among your unsaved neighbors; for then, even if they are suspicious of you and talk against you, they will end up praising God for your good works when Christ returns.”
You see, God chose you and He desires to do great things in and through you. Of course, if you’d really prefer to take the easy way of “fitting in” and “being just like everybody else” instead of following God’s plan for your life, you are certainly free to make that choice. However, keep in mind what Jesus once said…
“The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide enough for all the multitudes who choose its easy way. But the Gateway to Life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
You can choose the easy way if you wish but if you do, you shouldn’t expect God to make it easy for you. God loves you intensely and He has ways of getting your attention if you continue to travel down an easy road that will eventually lead you to an eternity of pain and separation from Him. Like any good, loving parent, God won’t let you get away with following the kind of lifestyle that will ultimately hurt you (see Hebrews 12:5-6).
It’s been said that nothing good ever comes easily, and this is true for our spiritual lives as well. Living the kind of God-honoring lifestyle that puts Jesus first isn’t always easy but it’s the right way to live. Remember that God will honor you if you stand firm for Him.
Keep moving forward in your relationship with God and don’t be discouraged by those who mistreat you, make fun of you or just don’t understand you. In fact, many of the greatest men and women of God were mistreated, misunderstood, and made fun of in their own lifetimes, which places you in some very good company if you receive the same treatment.
Finally, don’t forget the words of Galatians 6:9…
“And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up.”