LORD you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.

Standing out as a Believer In Today’s Society

The Quality of A Believing Believer

Jesus Christ stands out in a unique way as both God and man. As God, in order to give us a glimpse into what it means to participate in something much bigger than we could ever imagine. And as a man He shows us what it is like to live a selfless yet purposeful life. Something we might all want to carefully consider!

Society and popular culture, in particular, is constantly looking for reality, someone who is the real deal, who stands out. People want to believe in something or someone they can follow and learn from. Jesus fulfills that criteria by bringing hope where there is none, strength in weakness and love where bitterness and hatred dwell. Life where there is death and light into the dark places. Forgiveness, healing and most importantly He invites us into an experiential knowledge of the living God.

No other can do

These contrasting redemptive realities not only build character but does what no other can do. They teach us what God is like. When we consider these things, we soon realise that God has opened a way in Jesus for each of us to know Him more fully. Upon reflection, and knowing the depth of love that Jesus has for each one of us, it pains me deeply to think that so many just do not want to turn to Him. What do we do?

One of the simple ways we can demonstrate He really does make a difference in our lives is by our own responsiveness to following Him with wholehearted devotion. Not just in short spurts but with consistency. In what Matthew calls, “the unforced rhythms of grace” [1]

We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul – not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that He has for us.” [2]

He made a choice

We see Jesus’ selfless character demonstrated in His reckless loving care for people in spite of religious traditions, cultural expectations and  the constant pressure to conform to the expectations of others. His awareness of genuine need when a desperate woman in the crowd reaches out to touch Him. His compassionate love, as He tenderly reminds people of His purpose to set us free and heal us from our bent out of shape lifestyle. He unhurriedly gave time to people, healed the sick and broken, cast out demons, and declared with authority the Kingdom of God is within reach. He  even made a choice to lay down His life on His terms – in Jerusalem for our sake.

Maybe part of the answer for His very own people to stand out today is to emulate the life of Jesus as we read in the four Stories of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These four books are packed with Good News and each page tells us that He is the focus. These pages reveal the true nature of our God and teach us what mature love looks like. Yes, everything starts in Him. And that truth is demonstrated in our lives towards others as we follow His example to love one another through selfless giving. This how is best understood by His example,  ‘God so loved….He gave.” Therein lies the mark of a present-day believing believer. “As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love.” [3]

Wanting To Stand Out

This is something I think about often. How do we genuinely love people?   I catch myself observing people’s faces as I walk around town. I try not to stare but rather offer a friendly glance. Looking and wondering. Watching and asking Father what kind of day or week or month or life that person has experienced. We all wear the marks of our life history. They are usually etched on our faces and expressed in our attitudes. The pain of neglect or depression or despair or rejection is in the eyes!

The hereditary fatal flaw is seen in all of humanity at some point. Contrast that with the beauty of God’s redemptive work in people’s lives. I love the thought that He came to do for us what we could never achieve by ourselves. He loves us. He has given us a clear eye, a listening ear and a compassionate heart. So that others may be touched by His love and care through the time we give to them.

Self help is no help

Self-help courses or exercises and techniques that temporarily provide superficial peace and contentment are sub-standard. Making wise choices and saying yes to Him in every situation we face keeps us aware of the One who is “the Prince of Peace” and reminds us to walk in love.  Immersing our lives in His Presence. In the words of Mother Theresa, “The success of love is in the loving – it is not in the result of loving. Of course, it is natural in love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the value of what we have done.

God has set in place a much better way

So, getting back to my earlier thought. What is the mark of a believing believer? That personal work of His grace, stamped within our inner being is the power point of our lives. It is the GPS. The seal of God’s affectionate and life-giving love. His work within us, we call transformation. [4] And He has set Himself to change the world through us as His very own people. They will know us by our love!

[1]  Matthew 11:29  The Message

[2]  Colossians 1:11 The Message

[3] 2 John 1:6  NIV

[4] 2 Corinthians 4:16-18  NIV