Summary: Change is difficult-it’s hard to sustain. There is much working against it so we need motivators and incentives to keep at it and stay the course. Daring to be differerent may not be easy but it's rewarding and it's what we're called to do as Christians.
DARE TO BE DIFFERENT
2nd Cor. 6:14-7:1
INTRODUCTION: As we roll into January we find ourselves being dedicated to making some changes-losing weight, eating better, exercising more; as well as making resolutions to be better people, manage our finances better, things like that. But, as we all know, those resolutions are often short-lived. Change is difficult-it’s hard to sustain. It’s no different when it comes to spiritual changes either. But that’s what we’re called to do as Christians-change. We are no longer supposed to be as we once were. But, it’s for good reason. But, as we know, change, even when it’s for the better, is still difficult to maintain. There is much working against it and sometimes we don’t see the rewards as quickly as would like. Plus we need motivators and incentives to keep at it and stay the course. For our spiritual development it’s all there-rewards, motivators and incentives. These are important as we strive for change; as we dare to be different than how we were.
1) Do not be yoked with unbelievers (14-15).
Yoked means joined with. Often this is used in regards to conducting romantic relationships and that’s part of it. We shouldn’t be romantically involved with unbelievers because we won’t be in harmony with them; we won’t have commonality with them. They won’t be looking at things from a spiritual standpoint; they won’t be considering God’s will.
That doesn’t mean we don’t associate with unbelievers; it doesn’t mean we aren’t friends with those who don’t follow Christ. Jesus associated with unbelievers many times. He said his followers are to be in the world just not of the world. Paul said in 1st Cor. 5:10 that if we didn’t associate at all with unbelievers we would have to leave the world.
So the problem isn’t associating with them; the problem isn’t even being friends with them-it’s joining with them; connecting with them in their folly. We need to avoid the attitudes and behaviors of the unbeliever. It’s about being different.
It’s not easy to be different. We like to blend in-we like to be part of the group-we like to fit in. In that we feel accepted. We don’t want to be the odd one-we don’t like being the misfit-we feel like we’re always on the outside looking in. As a Christian, that is the challenge we face if we are going to associate with unbelievers. That’s the struggle we will find ourselves up against-standing out.
When we don’t use foul language like they do, when we don’t tell or laugh at foul jokes like they do, when we don’t agree with the things they agree with, when we don’t support the things they support we will be looked at differently-we will be treated differently. Suddenly we aren’t the popular ones-we may not be invited back, the room may go silent when we walk in-we may get the looks-we may get the ‘who does he think he is, Mr. Holy Roller; Mr. He-Thinks-He’s-Better-Than-Us’ comments. Daring to be different has its risks-it has its share of difficulties but it’s what we’re called to be-not better, as some would think. Better-no; different-yes.
But the temptation to be yoked will be there; the temptation to blend in will be there-because it’s the easier thing to do-it creates less friction; it’s more comfortable. But we have to remember that’s not who we are anymore. We are new creations; the old has gone the new has come.
Then we see Paul asking a series of questions. Of course the answer to all these rhetorical questions is ‘nothing’. So then, if we are born-again, why do we connect ourselves in such a way? Because the desires are still there. Just because we are called to be different, just because we will quickly say it’s better to be different doesn’t mean we won’t be tempted to retreat back to old behaviors. Our minds play tricks on us. ‘One won’t hurt’ we tell ourselves. We know that dieting and exercise are good for us but we convince ourselves that it’s okay to compromise. Now, one cookie isn’t going to ruin our diet but for some people that one cookie starts a chain of events that eventually does ruin the diet. For some, they can skip a week of exercising and then get back on track. For others it causes them to continue to skip and then the next thing you know they’re not exercising at all.
When it comes to sin, one sin may not ruin your walk but once we start to compromise we set the stage for it to continue and grow and then next thing you know we are living as if we never were different. But that’s the lie we tell ourselves, ‘one won’t hurt; it’s no big deal’ but it does and it is-because for that one moment we are joining sides with wickedness; we are linking up with the devil. Even if it’s just once we are agreeing to be in disagreement with God. We are not in harmony with God; we are not in fellowship with our Lord. We are not being the called-out people we are supposed to be. We are not standing out we are blending in again. Now I’m not trying to make a mountain out of a molehill and call one sin a travesty but I think it’s important to highlight what exactly is going on lest we take it too lightly.