CLERGY CORNER: 3 compelling ways to stand out in a world obsessed with fitting in

Posted on 11 October 2017 by LeslieM

Whether it’s a name etched in cement or a boot print on the moon, we desire to make our mark — something that says, I was here. And, if we’re lucky, not even death will prevent our name from continuing beyond our physicality.

However, the problem with fitting in with the world is that it’s hard to stand out. We’re called to be “the light of the world — like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden,” like a lamp to be “placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house” living differently “for all to see, so that everyone will praise [our] heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:14-16 NLT).

The following three ideas will help you do more than just leave your mark on Earth, but alter the Kingdom for eternity and bring glory to God — for which there is no greater purpose.

1. Recognize there is a fine line between identifying with the world and being identified by the world. When we attach our identity to anything other than Christ, we risk alienating the very people we are called to love and serve. Whether it’s the kind of vehicle driven or the amount of education achieved, etc., it’s easy to unwittingly project that if you don’t have what I have, you are on the outside, which is the exact opposite message of Christianity.

I never want my lifestyle to make me unapproachable. I might identify with others based on similar interests, but I never want those interests to become my identity. Christ came to invite those on the outside (which includes you and me) to be on the inside where everyone is welcome — yes, even that annoying neighbor you work so diligently to avoid.

2. Accept that being accepted by Christ comes at the expense of being accepted by the world.

If the world hates you, remember that it hated Me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you” (John 15:18-19 NLT).

To put that in context: Somewhere around A.D. 60-120 King Nero had Christians set on fire as a source of illumination and also had them ravaged to death by dogs for entertainment. While many in the Western culture won’t encounter such atrocities — actual persecution, not #FirstWorldPains — those living for Christ will experience push-back for their beliefs. However, be encouraged knowing that you have access to the Holy Spirit’s power when encountering opposition from a world that released Barabbas and crucified Christ.

3. Leave the results to God. Too often, I succumb to the need for instant gratification. It’s tempting to want to sow the seed, water the soil, then watch impatiently for the stem to break the surface. To put that into a modern context: I’ll post a picture on Instagram then immediately check to see if it got any likes. (I know I’m not alone in this). However, living for immediate results leads to burn out. Paul likens faith to a race, and, if I’ve learned anything from Aesop, it’s that “slow and steady wins the race.” Plus, leaving the results up to God not only eliminates feelings of inadequacy (since we often try to use results to bolster our own credibility, acceptance and worth from the world), but it also communicates to God that we trust Him and believe He deserves the glory.

Though the temptation to fit in is real, we cannot stand out while trying to do so. Yet, if we maintain our identity in Christ, accept that there will be opposition and trust God with the outcome, I believe our desire to fit in — be accepted by the world — diminishes and we, instead, become restless to reach a lost and hurting world for Christ, one that is dark and in need of the light we’ve been given. So abandon conformity with this world and leave your mark on eternity by asking God where you are to be different, then get to writing in the wet cement He’s laid before you.

C.J. Wetzler is the NextGen pastor at The Church at Deerfield Beach. Before transitioning into full-time ministry, CJ was a commercial airline captain and high school leadership and science teacher. For questions or comments he can be reached at cj@dfb.church.

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