Summary: This message looks at how faith changes our outlook on life
A young couple rented a vacation cottage for a week. One afternoon the husband looked out a window at the swimming pool and exclaimed, "Let’s change our clothes and go get some exercise!" His wife, who was washing the dishes in the kitchen and looking out the window watching some people play tennis, quickly agreed. While she dressed for a tennis match, he put on his swimming trunks. The window a person chooses to look out at the world often determines that individual’s perception of reality.
I am a great believer in attitude, in outlook and perspective. These are the things that dictate the kind of person we are and how we live our lives, how we will react in given circumstances. It is my firm conviction that one of the most significant differences that faith makes is that it gives us a different perspective. When a person becomes a Christian they get a new outlook on life. They inherit a different set of values, goals, their philosophy of life changes. Faith does that. No one exhibits this more than Abraham (receives more attention than any other in Hebrews 11). One of the things Abraham shows us is that he got it right when it comes to outlook on life – perspective, that was down to his faith.
1. Faith makes us different to other people
You are different this morning to most people. When you go to work, to the supermarket, when you walk out of these doors you are different. Do you ever feel that? As you look around, as you talk to people – you just sense you are different. Now I don’t mean you get a feeling of superiority, that is called something else – arrogance! Repent of that! But you have a different attitude to life; your outlook is different, values, perspective. When I talk to people I find I can often make a connection with them based on common interest e.g. humour, sport, family etc. But there comes a point when you know that you are different. Peter says, “you are a peculiar people” (1 Pet. 2:9 KJV). Some Christians have turned that into an art form and are amongst the most peculiar I have ever met! But Peter means we have been set apart for God. Faith does that. The word holy means different, faith makes us holy, set apart, because it changes our whole perspective on life. When your perspective changes everything changes.
2. Faith makes us foreigners in the world
Until Abraham believed and obeyed God he worshiped gods in Ur and was like everyone else. But once he believed and obeyed he became a stranger. In his case he left a city and lived in a tent. In Canaan where he was going most people lived in cities and towns. Not Abraham – he became a stranger. On the day of his death all he owned in terms of land was the tomb in which his wife Sarah was buried. Even though the entire land was promised to him he was still an alien, a foreigner. You know when you go abroad – you feel different to the locals. They speak a different language, have a different culture and you are initially conscious of being a foreigner. I am still sometimes self-conscious of my accent – what accent you’re thinking. But really I have a little bit of a Welsh accent. It marks you out. People say, “You’re from Scotland!” It’s true some do, not many. That is what we are on this earth – strangers/foreigners. Don’t’ be afraid or ashamed of being different. I don’t mean become a spooky Christian. But I do mean it is okay to carry a sense that we are strangers. That is what Abraham was. It is what we are – foreigners in an alien land. The day we trusted in Jesus this place ceased to be our home, we became aliens.
3. Faith Changes Our Priorities & Values
In Ur the priority was prosperity. In Canaan I’m sure it was much the same. People haven’t changed that much. But for Abraham he now had a different priority: the promise of God. We set our priorities according to our values. What we deem most important or valuable we will make our highest priority – or at least we should. Now Abraham became prosperous (he was probably reasonably so already), but it is that that was no longer his top priority. Faith does that. The most important thing is not the accumulation of things, progress in career or even our personal relationships. It is living for God, doing his will. Those other things may be blessed as a result of having this priority – certainly our personal relationships will. Our love for others flows from our love for God. But our value system is changed. We have a different set of moral values: Joe and Helen Roberts a Christian couple complained to their local council over its ‘gay rights’ policies. They were shocked to receive a visit from the police, who questioned them for over an hour and told them they were close to committing a ‘hate crime’. Harry Hammond, a Bournemouth street preacher convicted of breaking the law for holding a sign saying homosexuality is immoral. Piece in daily mail Wednesday - we don’t need to apologise for having a different attitude to honesty, to sexual morality. We have a different view of what is really important. We realise that there is nothing more important than people coming to faith in Jesus. That we are here for God’s purpose.