Living Separate, Not Secluded
No one wants to be pegged as “that guy” or “that girl.” We all remember “that guy” in elementary school who tried to entertain his fellow classmates with his off color noises, fashioned by his own genius and formed by random body parts. His noise-making talents, though fascinating to him, were only annoying, disturbing, (a slew of adjectives might be inserted here) to his peers.
In high school, we all remember “that girl” who managed to make simple things complicated. Was it really necessary for her to clarify the homework assignment three times? Why can’t she ask obvious questions after class and give everyone else a chance to ask legitimate questions in class?
The simple fact is that people do not want to be recognized as odd man out; people want to belong and feel accepted. Interestingly, our culture glorifies individuals who do not fit the mold. Media commentators spend countless hours recognizing the “black sheep” of our society. We merely need to look at the enormous fame of Lady Gaga for proof. Her primary message is, “It doesn’t matter what you, society, or God thinks—I’m born this way, get used to it.”
However, do not let this culture of acceptance fool you. Our society is willing to accept people who radically rebel or live immorally, but it rarely accepts people who are sold out to God. Christians are painted as insensitive radicals while the Lady Gagas of the world are depicted as refreshingly unique. Our separation may be criticized, but this should not discourage any Christian from living out God’s purpose. I Peter 2:9 reassures us, “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light (NLT)”
Living out the purpose of God is not without challenges. My sisters and I attended public school and we experienced the “that Pentecostal girl” label being placed on us. Thankfully, we are blessed with tremendous parents who not only supported us, but taught us we did not have to conform to be well-liked. My mom’s favorite verse to quote us (in her strong Texas accent) was, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly” (Proverbs 18:24).
So we just went to school, attempted to be pleasant, and hoped for the best. There are many details I could relay, but I will get to the bottom line. Before my older sister, Kara (pictured above right), graduated from high school, she was voted Homecoming Queen. My younger sister, Kalee (pictured above left), was voted Prom Queen. And while I (pictured above center) did not get a corruptible crown, no pun intended, I was voted Student Council President my senior year.
All that to say, my sisters and I managed to create relationships and build a reputation with our friends without altering who God called us to be. Not once did we feel isolated or rejected because we did not dress, talk, or behave like everyone else. We simply did our best to love people, and in the end, it made somewhat of an impact.
We have an opportunity to impact our world everyday, but we must purpose to accept that calling in order to live it. God’s purpose for our lives is so much larger than what we can imagine.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16 NIV).
We must show love to a world that is exhausted with feelings of emptiness. For a time, I lived with a roommate who was not a Christian. She commented to me one day, “Courtney, I don’t understand it. You have more fun than me and you don’t even party. That just doesn’t make sense to me.” The joy that you and I have is so far above the “scene” we could have in the world. While the world offers people an unending path of unrealized fulfillment, God offers people a straight path to an eternity with unceasing joy and peace with Him.
When you committed your life to God, you effectively traded an unfulfilled earthly existence for a higher purpose and calling. It is normal for your goals and ambitions to be different than your friends’ at school. In fact, if your goals are the same, you should probably do some reevaluating. The key is to embrace your separation for the gift it represents, a purpose greater than the world has to offer.
Lady Gaga once said, “You have to be unique and different and shine in your own way.” We will be unique, different, and allow God to shine through us.
Courtney Christian earned her B.A. in Public Communications in 2009. She is currently pursuing her M.A. in Government. She serves as the music coordinator for First UPC of Leesville and works for her local mayor as the City Clerk.