You’re in a crowded room and suddenly everyone turns to look at you. Under the weight of those stares, your heart starts racing. Maybe a bead of sweat breaks out on your brow, and you take a half step back, looking for a way to hide within the wallpaper.
If you’ve ever felt that way, you’re not alone. Most Americans—61 percent—would rather blend into the crowd than stand out. This tendency is so strong that fashion designers and advertising moguls bank millions on our desire to look and be like everybody else.
For followers of Jesus, the problem with our habit of blending in is that the Bible calls us to be set apart. In fact, the Scriptures command us to think and behave differently than the world around us. This has nothing to do with fashion or branding; it has everything to do with lifestyle and character. We are called to be holy—to be set apart—because Jesus is holy.
It seems a little odd to me that in a letter written to a group of persecuted Christians, Peter threw in a reminder to be holy (see 1 Pet. 1:14-16). Pain and suffering can have a way of leading us to God, but they also can steer us away from God. It all depends on our individual response. Some people will try to do what is right, no matter what it costs. Others will do whatever is easiest to handle a difficult situation.
We need the reminder to live holy lives. There has been many times where I handled a situation in a way that reflects my selfishness rather than Christ’s holiness. My background is that of a do-it-yourselfer, an overachiever, and a naturalist. So when faced with a huge problem, I want to revert back to my old ways.
1. I don’t see the spiritual side of things; I just see the problem. (That’s the naturalist in me.)
2. I obsess over the right way to handle the issue. (That’s the overachiever in me.)
3. I try to fix whatever I can on my own without getting help, since getting help will take too long and involve possibly messy relationships. (That’s the do-it-yourselfer in me.)
To live by the truth is to live a life set apart for God—a holy life. Peter reminded us not to slip back into our former lifestyles and habits, but to continute to pursue what is good and true. He reminded us to pursue Jesus even through times of great trial.