Sticking Out Like a Sore Thumb: Post-it Note #49

My family and I have been on a Paleo-type cleanse.  Sounds frightful doesn’t it?  Basically that means that we are eating fresh whole fruits and veggies, clean meat, eggs and nuts and have cut out sugar, artificial stuff, processed or refined foods (about 150%!!! of the American diet!) most grains and dairy.  It’s been an adjustment.  But we can see good results in just a couple of weeks of this eating plan.  The difference is evident.

Hubby and I were talking the other night about how eating different makes us stick out like a sore thumb.  We have become THAT family.  You know, the crazy one that doesn’t let their kids have artificial colors or sugar and makes them drink water instead of Kool-Aid.  He is, after all, a Baptist minister.  And if there’s something we know about as Baptists, it’s eating.  The power of the Potluck.  But when you’re Paleo in a Potluck World you are definitely walking against the tide.

What’s interesting is how some want to sidetrack you from what you’re doing with comments like, “poor kids” and “a little won’t hurt” and things like that.  It’s hard to hold up under the pressure of the Potluck World.  You know that world.  The world of more.  The world of try a little of everything.  The world of over indulgence.  The Paleo world is a lot more narrow than the wide world of the Potluck.

Naturally this leads me to draw connections to our spiritual world.  Also a narrow path.  Also one of discipline.  Also one that needs a specific diet of truth to be fed.  Here’s the question:  When it comes to our spiritual walk, do we stick out like a sore thumb before the world or do we just join in?  Of course we perceive that we are different from “the world”.  As Christians we aren’t like the world, right?  Let’s take a test and see.

  1. When you are wronged, what is your first response?  – Anger or Forgiveness?
  2. When hardship comes, what is your first response?  – Complaining or Praise?
  3. When you come across people different than you, how do you treat them?  – Keep Your Distance or Reach Out and Friend Them?
  4. How do you feel about people using your possessions?  – Stingy or Give Freely?
  5. How quick are you to help those less fortunate than you and let go of your money? – Almost Never or Often?
  6. When others are talking about someone (gossiping) what do you do?  Join in or Put it to a Stop?
  7. When someone is being difficult how do you respond to that person?  Give Them a Piece of your Mind (and say, “I’m just being honest”) or Show Them Grace (sort of the way Christ showed you grace)?

Tell me friends, are we REALLY that different from the world?  Sadly, we are not.  Myself included.  And here’s the sad part.  We THINK we are different from the world and we stand out from the crowd because of external issues such as:  we dress right (I failed that one.  I wear jeans to church whenever I can.), we have the right hair cut (Does gray roots apply?), we don’t have tattoos (Oops, another fail.), we don’t EVER cuss (Ever? No comment.), we use the right version of the Bible (I use 5 or 6 – surely one is right!), we go to church 15 times a week (If I get there once a week I’m doing pretty good.), we “do” all the right things.  So we think we are different from the world.  But God says, and you KNOW He says this, that HE looks on our hearts.

Notice the test above didn’t have to do with what we wear or how often we attend church, but deals with HEART issues.  If we are not different in our hearts, in our motivation, in our love, then we are NOT different from the world.  We are exactly the same.  But because we look right and are religious we think we are ok.  It is one of Satan’s greatest deceptions.  It’s terrifying.  And if we think for one moment that the world doesn’t recognize our hypocrisy, we are so wrong.  They are repulsed by it.  Because it seems the Non-Christian has no doubt as to how a Christian should be.  They know.  It is us, the Church, that has forgotten.

And this is how we should be:

  • We should love each other (not fight with our brothers and sisters and split churches)

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” – John 13:34-45

  • We should be quick to give praise to God and take all things that come to us as from the Lord instead of complaining.

“Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people”. – Philippians 2:14-15

  • We should freely give forgiveness and grace without holding grudges.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you”. – Ephesians 4:31-32

  • We should not hide from the world but should go out into the world and win it for Christ.

Jesus prayed to God the father for all believers: “I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world”. – John 17:15-18

If we live this way, we WILL stick out like a sore thumb.  But real love.  Real truth.  Real grace.  Real peace.  Real forgiveness.  These things IMPACT the world.  It shows them that God is real and that He makes a difference.  That the narrow path is the right choice.

But be warned.  Some will try to dissuade you from living this way.  From sticking out.  And I’ll tell you right now, it won’t be the world.  They will be awed by it.  It will be those who are in the church hiding from the world that will be your biggest discouragement.  Misery loves company.  And if you walk in truth it calls them to deal with the lies they believe and the choices they have to make.

Here’s a quote by Francis Chan that applies to this:

“Things like this happen all the time.  As a church, we tend to do this to people who are passionate & bold.  We mellow them out.  Institutionalize them.  Deaden them to the work that the Spirit is doing in them. In Acts 4:13  we read of the early church doing just the opposite…Some of the boldest people (Peter & John) were the ones asking for more boldness…Instead of encouraging people who are doing courageous things for God & joining them in their discernment process of how to be faithful to what God is calling them to, we tell them to slow down & back off. Instead of being astonished at believers’ courage, frequently (and unfortunately) I am astonished at believers’ timidity & lack of boldness.  What a contrast to the biblical model we are given!”

Stick out friends.  Stick out like a sore thumb.  The difference will be evident.  Walk in the light of truth and shine bright so that the world may know that our God is who He says He is and can do what He says He will do.  May God give you the desire to do just that and the strength to make it happen!