In his book “If: Trading Your If Only Regrets for God’s What If Possibilities,” Mark Batterson encourages his readers to act as if they are who God says they are.
There was a time in Scotland when you could spot Americans by the way they dressed (and I’m guessing visa-versa)! Some trends Americans wore were big no-no’s in Scotland back in the 80s and 90s!!! Then of course there was the accent giveaway … and the various different words for things! I won’t go into details but there are definitely some words Americans say that are offensive to say in Britain, and i’ve had to learn what not to say here also! Even now, I am misunderstood at times for different pronunciations and phrases.
My point is, no matter where we are from, we all have our similarities, but so many differences.
When Jason and I got engaged the first thing we did was not going to check out venues or even set a date. The first thing we had to do was submit our first application in order for me to obtain a fiancée VISA to move from Scotland to the U.S.. We had to laugh at the title of the first form Jason had to submit:
“Petition for an Alien Fiancee!”
When I moved here I was so desperate to fit in. I was officially labeled an ‘alien’ on my passport – I even have an alien number – now I know you’re jealous!! We were living in the D.C. area and all my family were back ‘home’ in Scotland. Jason is from Tennessee, which is where we met, and, at the time, the only place in America I had friends.
I felt alone.
I felt like I had no one to talk to who understood my thoughts and feelings.
I felt homesick.
I just wanted to be ‘normal’ – I didn’t want my nationality pointed out and questioned about Scotland everywhere I went. I didn’t want to know your ancestors were Scottish. Honestly, it all just made me miss ‘home’ even more.
You might think things would have improved once I started working but they actually grew worse. It seemed like my differences only stood out even more. I was working in a demanding position in a Realtor’s office in the D.C. area. I began to dress like my coworkers, I wore clothing that was uncomfortable. Pencil skirts and high heels look super cute on so many people, I am not one of them!! AND I’d had knee surgery the week before I started the job so it was just a bad idea all around!! But that’s how everyone around me dressed and so I did. I began to outwardly look like them.
I also began to talk and act like the people around me – kind of obnoxious and demanding at times – but that’s how work in a busy Realtors office was. I just wanted so bad to blend in. I began to put on an American twang and use words they used. I just wanted to sound ‘normal’ in the world I found myself.
It was a hard lesson!
And you know, those words and actions only served to do exactly what I craved them to do – they earn me a place in the world in which I was living!
They earned me man’s approval – but as Paul writes to the Galatians:
“Am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
There are going to be times when we are going to feel so alienated by this world that we will just want to conform. We will want to compromise and fit in.
But we are told:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
We are not OF this world (John 15:19)
We are to be imitators of GOD not man (Ephesians 5:1)
God told Moses He would rescue and free the people from slavery in Egypt, with the promise of entering an amazing land full of provision (Exodus 3:8).
They then wandered in the wilderness for 40 years with their eyes fixed on achieving more and gradually failing to see the daily provision. With the Egyptians chasing them and feeling hopeless, they battled in their minds over which would be better — perishing in the wilderness, or being back in slavery in Egypt. At least back in Egypt they knew what to expect!
We must never lose sight of the promises of God.
He has promised eternal life in Heaven for His children.
We have to remember, in the moments when we feel like it would be easier to give in and go with the flow of the world and behave like the non-Christians around us, nothing is worth going back into captivity and slavery, changing our behavior to fit in.
We are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) – called to represent HIM as we journey through this life. You know, Jesus didn’t exactly live a ‘normal’ life – He stood out as different, and was not exactly loved by everyone due to His differences!
Last Thursday I stood before officials and pledged my allegiance to the United States as a new citizen. Don’t get me wrong, this is something I take very seriously, and Scripture tells us we are subject to the governing bodies of this world that HE has put in place (Romans 13:1).
BUT, when we accept our Father’s gift of salvation through Christ, we give our lives and pledge allegiance to Him, as future citizens of Heaven.
As Paul writes:
“…you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household” Ephesians 2:19
“For our citizenship is in heaven…” Philippians 3:20
Everything that we pledge allegiance to in this world … the people, the places, the powers, the countries, the situations … they are all but a passing vapor that will one day disappear and be wiped away.
All that matters is how we live our life with purpose journeying towards the one place that we pledge allegiance to as Christians.
We live with purpose is if we are already living as citizens of heaven. We live as if the only allegiance we have is to our Eternal home, because that is the only allegiance that lasts.
Jesus defied culture and the norm. He spoke to the outcast. He had no home. He is the perfect example of the life of a sojourner, of an alien.
No-one who encountered Jesus could ever be the same again, not because He was ‘normal’ but because He was different.
Two years after my first office job in the DC area, I was working in another office, with a different mindset! One of the Realtors I had just become Facebook friends with came up to me one day and said:
“I knew there was something different about you!”
Oh my goodness friends, when I first moved here that would have been torture to my ears! I mean ground open up and swallow me now!!! All I longed for was to be the same as everyone!
Then she said the most beautiful words …
“We have the same Father!”
One day we will all be ‘normal’ when we are surrounded by all of our fellow citizens of heaven but until then I say PRAISE the LORD that I am different! And ALL the Glory goes to Him if that is evident in my life!
So my challenge is…
Dare to be different
Dare to stand out
Dare to be live like Jesus!
Dare to act as if you are the alien God says you are!