Christians are not only different in who they are but also in what they do. I know a young woman who, after her first baby was born – I’d never heard of this before – ate the placenta. I’m sure someone will rush to tell me why that is a good thing (and maybe it is) but it is different, at least by my standards. But it is not doing unusual things that makes Christians different.
One difference is our habit (it’s not just an occasional thing) of doing good deeds. Jesus taught us to let our light so shine that people “will see [our] good deeds and glorify [our] Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Peter echoed this: “…they may see your good deeds and glorify God” (1 Peter 2:12). Paul taught that God has prepared good deeds in advance for us to discover and perform (Ephesians 2:10). Most people try to get out of doing anything they don’t have to do. We go out of our way to do good for all people, especially our fellow Christians (Galatians 6:10). It’s a habit.
One of the big things we do that is different – countercultural, even – is we forgive. We don’t forgive because someone deserves it – forgiveness, by its very nature, is never deserved. We forgive because God forgives. We are different because he is different. When we forgive, we reveal what he is like. Forgiveness makes the teaching of God our savior attractive. When we forgive, we make it possible for people to believe that God will forgive.
When the people of Mother Emmanuel AME church in Charleston forgave Dylan Roof for the murder of their loved ones, they were different. That difference evoked a backlash from people who cling to unforgiveness as a kind of power. But how attractive Mother Emmanuel made the teaching of God our savior! If they can forgive, then maybe God can forgive me.
Think back to the passage in Titus, only this time substitute the words “employee” for “slave” and “boss” for “master”. (Titus 2:9-10) Teach employees to be subject to their bosses in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” In the workplace, that kind of employee is different. That’s the kind of employee God wants us to be.
We could go one listing examples. I’ll just mention a couple of relatively easy ones that have biblical sanction. First, simply joining other Christians regularly for worship (which the Bible instructs us to do) makes us different. In an average week, only about 20 to 25 percent of our neighbors go to church (this was pre-COVID). If we go, we are different. Exploit the difference.
Another thing: the use of profanity has increased dramatically in American life, especially among religious people. If we will just refrain from using that kind of language (which the Bible instructs us to do), and from the anger and condemnation that underlie them, we will be different.
Christians need to remember the mission: to attract people to the king and his kingdom, where people live differently, live better, live forever.