If you have never read the book of Esther, I highly recommend that you do. I have read it more than once, and during one of my readings, the passage quoted below seemed to jump out and speak to me.
Then Haman approached King Xerxes and said, “There is a certain race of people scattered through all the provinces of your empire who keep themselves separate from everyone else. Their laws are different from those of any other people, and they refuse to obey the laws of the king. So it is not in the king’s interest to let them live. ~Esther 3:8 NLT
Many of the Jews living in Persia after the exile, maintained their customs and religious practices. Doing so kept them obviously separate from the people whose culture they had been forced into. These Persian Jews refused to practice customs, or to follow rules that went against what they believed God wanted from them. Imagine how much strength and courage that took.
I believe that God calls us, as followers of Christ, to become a separate people also. We are called to worship our Creator publicly and regularly. We are called to resist the ways of the world, to hold on to our beliefs, and to practice living the way we believe God wants us to live. Our lives should look different from those around us who are of the world.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. ~Romans 12:2 NLT
There are days when I do okay living in the world without being of the world. But there are other days when I allow myself to be pulled into situations where it is hard to act like the person God is calling me to be. Sometimes this happens when I am with a group of people who I really want to like me; or it may happen when I am with someone I want to impress. At other times, I may just want to avoid having any kind of conflict. I was never one of the popular kids, and even though I am grown up now, I still struggle with wanting to be part of the in crowd. It can get tiresome feeling like I don’t fit in.
Yet, I know that God is calling me to do just that. God wants me to be different from those who are not living the lives He wants them to live. God doesn’t want me to fit in, if that means going against His will. He wants me to be faithful and obedient. In order to better separate myself from the ways of the world, I need to be faithful in prayer, to regularly study God’s Word, and to surround myself with people who will hold me accountable.
Do you also struggle with this? Please share your thoughts with me.