Summary: A sermon focused on OT on how the church is to be culturally distinct (Material adapted from Daniel Overdorf's book, What the Bible Says About the Church: Rediscovering Community, chapter 2 Culturally Distinct, pg. 49- 63)
God calls his people to remain distinct from our culture. To be distinct is to be different in nature from something else, more than just being different. Often say that we are to be different from our culture and this is correct. However, there are many individuals and groups that are different from the norm but they are not different because they are living for God.
Reminds me of the Muppets Take Manhattan where the son of a Broadway producer wants to produce Kermit’s show. The son keeps saying that we wants to do something different for his first show. The father says, “If you want to do something different, then put jello down your pants.” That is different but that is probably not what God would want us to do.
In another Muppet Movie, Kermit is talking with Gonzo. Gonzo says that he is so different that he is a freak. Kermit tries to comfort Gonzo by saying that Gonzo is distinct. Gonzo replies that he is not distinct but rather extinct. Good point here. If we do not maintain our distinctiveness from the world around us we will be extinct in a short time.
Thesis: Let’s talk about the call to be distinct
The Call to Distinctiveness
A community set apart
The roots of God’s call for His people’s distinctiveness stretch back into the OT. Discussed how God was creating a people for his very own through the covenant with Abraham. This idea develops further through the covenant with Moses and the Israelites after they leave Egypt. One important aspect of God’s idea of community involves the distinctiveness of His people from the surrounding culture. Read Exodus 19:5, 6
Its covenant with God required Israel to be distinct from the normal social, cultural, and ethical patterns of the day.
A distinctiveness based on allegiance to God.
God sought believers devoted solely to Him. This devotion would set the Israelites community apart, be different in nature from all the other nations.
God desires much the same today concerning the church. From Ephesians we see that Paul addresses the letter to the saints (holy ones) in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus (1:1). Paul explained that Christ loved the church to make her holy (5:26). Christians live in a distinct manner because, in Christ, we have put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (4:24).
Similar to God’s call to the Israelites, His call for the distinctiveness of the church grows from our identity in Christ. Because we serve God and Him only, we stand out from the culture.
Like the Pharisees Jesus confronted, who sought distinctiveness by setting numerous boundaries that set them apart from the culture, churches today often seek to stand out by keeping extra biblical rules that draw lines between them, society and even other churches. Churches define themselves by how they dress, what style of music they listen to, or what petitions they sign. More than all of this, our distinction should come as a by product of living and functioning as a Christ like holy community. Our sole identity should not be, “We are the church that boycotts such and such,” but “we are the church who seeks to reflect Christ in all we say and do.”