Summary: Christians live in the shadow of the resurrection.
“You’re strange!” Those words might be heard on the school playground. The little boy who seems different from the rest – a bit odd – he’s strange to all the other children. It’s part of our human nature to point out apparent differences. We all do it in some way. Most of the time our observations and comments lead only to heartache or hatred.
Still, the fact remains that there are differences among us and people will highlight them. People may even target you as a recipient of their disdain or suspicion. After all, you probably appear to be different to someone else. As a Lutheran Christian, this is especially true. People may listen to you or observe your behavior and come to the conclusion, YOU CHRISTIANS ARE STRANGE! Make no apologies if this happens. Consider it a blessing to be strange, a bit odd, or different from the rest of the world. We are. As believers in Christ, 1) We Have a Different Value System. As people motivated by the Holy Spirit, 2) We Have Different Calling.
1) We Have a Different Value System
The world’s value system can be summed up in one phrase: “The more you have, the better off you are.” That statement is true to a point. It’s good to have more, if what you have is beneficial. We can apply that statement to, say, cavities and find it to be false, however. It would be foolish to say that the more cavities you have the better off you are, unless, of course, you’re a dentist.
It all depends on how we define the “more” in our lives. What is our value system? To capitalistic America, the answer is simple, “Fort Knox.” The amount of gold locked in those vaults directly affects the value of our dollar, and how much we can spend. So, “more is better.” Many people apply this same value system to their own lives. The “more is better” philosophy determines success. How do you know if someone is successful? You look at their bank statement or paycheck.
Now, money is not evil. The pleasures of this life are not evil in and of themselves. Yet, the gauge we use to define these things, or the level of importance they hold in our lives, can be dangerous. Again, what is our value system? How do we define our worth? Peter answers those questions: “for you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you by your forefathers, but with the blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” Christians are strange because we don’t find our hope in money. We don’t place our security in the pleasures of this life. Christians are strange because they define their value and worth on Christ and his work of salvation. The blood of Christ is far more valuable than all the gold in the world. The blood of Christ ensures us that we have treasures in heaven. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross has atoned for our sins. Our sins are washed away. We have God’s Word which reveals this truth to us. Talk about a treasure! We are now at one, at peace, with our heavenly Father in Christ Jesus. There’s treasure! Why do I encourage personal and group Bible study? It’s because there is gold and shining sapphire there.
The wealth of God’s Word defines our own personal wealth or importance. Our lives –what we do, what we become, our successes and failures – do not belong to us. We belong to God. Our value in God’s eyes is not dependent on what we do for him; rather our value before God is based on what he has done for us. He puts the gold nuggets of the gospel in our pockets as the Holy Spirit leads us to dig out treasures from his Word.
We are valuable to God. That means we don’t have to pretend with God, or put a face on with him. In 1835, a man walked into a doctor’s office in Florence, Italy. He hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in weeks. He had no appetite. He was filled with anxiety for no apparent reason. The doctor examined him thoroughly had found no physical problems.
He concluded that the patient simply needed to be cheered up, and he told him he was in luck. The circus was in town, and its feature attraction was a clown named Grimaldi. “He’s fantastic”, the doctor said, “every night he has the audience in stitches. Go and see his act, you’re bound to feel better.” The patient didn’t think that would help. “You see, I’m Grimaldi,” he said.
Sometimes we’re tempted to be spiritual “Grimaldi’s.” We like to think that we have to keep up our appearances – to pretend that we feel we’re something we’re not. So we put on a mask – perhaps a silly one, a confident one, or an always cheerful – and – in – control one. We do this because we think we have to prove that we are valuable to ourselves, to others, and to God. After all God doesn’t want people who are prone to grumpiness. He doesn’t find value or worth in scared, confused people, right?