Different in the Dark
Being different is hard. Even in an individualist culture like America’s, we still can find it requires a real amount of courage to stand out in a group or hold a counter-cultural opinion or belief. Often, we find ourselves struggling to balance our need to “come out and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17) with the command to “go ye therefore into all nations”(Mark 16:15). How can we both come out from among the filth and the depravity of this world and be set apart to the Lord… but also go into this same world and world preach the Gospel?
We find separation all through the New and Old Testament, separation by location, separation of dress and of diet, separation in culture and actions. Separation was something God intended from the birth of His people. He called Abraham out from his home and began a nation through his offspring, He brought His people up out of Egypt, commanded they didn’t intermarry or desire other Nation’s ways of doing things. In the New Testament, we see Jesus challenging their previous ways of thinking and teaches that as a man thinks so is he. This throws the whole works based culture into a tizzy, as they learn that our intents and desires matter too.
1 Thessalonians was written by Paul and was a letter to the church of Thessalonica, in chapter 5 Paul is addressing this very topic of separation. Often when we hear this term our mind leaps to appearance, after all, it is the easiest to notice and control, but there is so much more to being a people separated unto God. We are a chosen people whose identity should be in both word and deed, in thought and dress. Paul writes to remind us that we are children of the light and should live as such, not sleeping as the rest do, or being caught unaware or overtaken by what surrounds us. Rather, to put on the breastplate of righteousness and love and the helmet of salvation. To build each other up, to be at peace, to esteem each other highly, to pray continuously, to be thankful for everything. Why?
“And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Thessalonians 5:23 Paul was seeking to give the Thessalonians the tools they needed to be pleasing to the Lord. The word “sanctify” can be translated into clean or “set apart,” meaning that the process of separating ourselves unto God is preserving our futures and garnering His attention.
In a world where being different is cool but being separate is considered unkind, remember that it is our life that should be the light in the darkness that Paul speaks of. Your friends, co-workers or even family may not understand your light, but they need it. Fear thrives in the dark, loneliness and shame hold people captive there, addiction and abuse make their home in the shadows. God called you to shine in the places no one else can, to light your schools and glow all over your places of employment. What seems small or unnecessary to you may be that glimmer of hope that someone you will encounter needed.
Be set apart.
Be the light that someone needs.
Olivia Black is a coffee lover and is always looking for a reason to bake a cake. She has a Bachelors in Organizational Leadership from ASU and an Associates in Music from Gateway College. She just recently married her other half, Brandon Black and together they serve at Lakeview Pentecostal Church in Blue Springs, MO.
Interested in Writing for Insideout Magazine?