I was doing some studying and the author made the point that when the Church looks like the world, we’re not very interesting. But when we look and act different, then there’s the potential for revival. That got me to thinking about movies and books. More often than not, we like the rebel. We like the guy who doesn’t fit in. Take Star Wars, for instance. Most folks seem to like Han Solo a whole lot more than Luke Skywalker. Or look at the X-Men. The only character to get a spin-off movie was Wolverine. Again, another rebel. Why do Frodo and Bilbo Baggins capture our attention? Perhaps it is because we are told they are peculiar. They aren’t like other hobbits. And then we meet the likes of Aragorn and Legolas and Gimli and we realize that they aren’t like others of their races. They are bolder, wilder, different. Maybe not to the point of being a rebel, but they stand out because they are not the same as others of their respective races. Or take Rocky. Rocky is known world-wide. He doesn’t quit. Ever. When others would pack it in, Rocky Balboa keeps going. He’s different. He’s cut from a different cloth. And we pay attention. Now I’ve taken some examples from popular culture, but hopefully it’s spurred on some thought. Because we, the Church, are supposed to be different.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. – 1 Peter 1:1-2, NASB
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. – John 15:18-19, NASB
Peter describes as aliens. Jesus tells us that the world hated Him, and so it will hate us. Why? Because we are not of the world. We’re supposed to be different. We’re supposed to be the rebels of our time. This sounds strange, especially when we talk about how we want to return to a time when the Church was respected and the Christian values espoused by our religious institutions were mainstream and beyond contestation. But truthfully, even in those periods in our history, much of the Church was still pursuing the same thing the rest of the world was. And it’s the same thing now. We pursue comfort. We pursue entertainment. We pursue respect and recognition. We pursue the “good life.” We pursue all the same things those who aren’t Christians pursue. And as a result, we aren’t any different. We aren’t the rebels standing out, saying, “I don’t care if you like me or not, because I’m going to live life the way I want to live it!” This is where we’ve got things wrong.
We’re supposed to be about the Cross. We’re supposed to be about being last and putting others first. We’re supposed to be about humbling ourselves, glorifying our Savior, and putting any vanity, any desire for respect or recognition by this world aside. We understand by choosing God we are putting ourselves in a position where the world at large is going to come against us. Why? Because we’re choosing against the values of the world. We’re saying it is better to give up everything than take what we “deserve.” We’re saying we willingly choose to live a life that’s not about seeking comfort and the “good life,” but rather seeking our Savior and living a life worthy of Him. Now that’s going to anger the world at large because of who is in charge of the world. But it’s going to cause us to stand out as the rebels. And when we do, we get noticed. Individuals who want a life different than the one they’re living will notice. They’ll wonder how we can stand firm, though we are so diametrically opposed to the goals that the world holds dear. The ones who have understood there is no happiness in the world’s goals because they’ve achieved some of them and found nothing of worth there will wonder why we are content. They’ll investigate us. And then we can help them meet our Savior. Then they’ll get a taste of real happiness. They’ll understand real joy. And they’ll join the rebel cause. Our cause. Christ’s cause. But to be the rebels of our time, we must intentionally and completely set ourselves apart from the world. We must be like Christ, emulating His example, seizing His goals and making them our own. Are you ready to be a rebel?