Vol.XII No.VI Pg.3
August 1975

A World Of Difference

Dan S. Shipley

We may need reminding that Gods people are different; that they are necessarily and distinctively different from the world and must ever be lot that being different is their objective, only that it comes as a consequence of following the Lord. Those who quit conforming to the world in favor of conforming to image of Christ (Rom. 8:29) will be different, to be sure — but in a way that is derived, not contrived.

Since every Christian is a former conformer (Rom. 12:2), having once walked according to the course of this world (Eph. 2:2), his being different is the result of a remarkable change having taken place in his life. Change makes different but change not necessarily make better, when made in the name of religion. The only change that makes one different and better in this area is that which is directed by Gods will. Every point at which a man is made different from the world by submitting to the gospel is a point of improvement! Different? Yes! But always for the better, never for the worse.

So, what were talking about is a truth-related difference. Just as the gospel truth is different and distinct from all other doctrine, so must the lives of those who submit to it be different accordingly. See the gospel as Gods shaping tool and the Bible mans character as the clay. But obviously, even the powerful gospel cannot effect change where it is not known and believed. This is why God wants all the world and every creature to be informed with the gospel message (Mk. 16:15,16). Only the informed can become true believers and only believers can become the children of God (Jn. 1:12; 6:44,45). To put it another way, those who are conformed to this world need to be informed in order to be transformed. In every case of conversion recorded in the NT, what the obedient did was in response to what they heard and learned. For example, in Acts 2 the Pentecostians heard Peters teaching (v.37) and upon inquiring as to what they should do were told to repent ye, and be baptized... (v.38). They then that received his word were baptized (v. 41) and thus began their newness of life (Rom. 6:4) having become new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). Transformed living still begins the same way. It is what the Christian knows and believes that has made him different and continues to make him different. In a word, it is his faith; the faith that worketh through love (Gal. 5:6). Every expression of true faith is a demonstration of the difference between the Christian and the world. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in Heb. 11.

As might be expected, the world generally resents this difference because it stands condemned by the conduct of the godly. As William Barclay put it, The life of a good man always passes a silent judgment on the life of an evil man. So, God says, Marvel not, brethren, if the world hateth you (1 Jn. 3: 13). Christians err in courting the worlds acceptance and approval; it makes an apology for our distinctiveness. Being Gods people does make a difference--you might say, a world of difference!