God’s people are expected to stand out from the world. In fact, the difference between the life of the Christian and the ways of the world should be as different as light is from darkness. Consequently, they will be viewed by others as being “extreme” or “radical.”
Christians Are Not “Of” This World
In John 15:19, Jesus demonstrates that those who are His followers are not “of” this world. Although they live in this world, their lives do not take the same “shape” as others who are living in this world. They are “cut from a different mold.”
Romans 12:1-2 explains, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
The Christian’s life is focused entirely on serving God and has been entirely devoted to God. However, those who are “of” the world are living according to their own physical desires and rebelling against the ways of God. Therefore, the Christian must not allow his/her life to be molded in the same way the world lives and how the world makes decisions. The Christian’s life has been “transformed” through the renewing of his/her mind that is focused on knowing and following the will of God.
2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 further demonstrates this truth. In this text, Paul instructs those who are Christians to not be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers” because they are the people of God (and the “temple of the living God”). Since they are the people of God, God instructs, “Come out from among them And be separate…Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters.”
God’s people are expected to be living holy lives, following the standard of God’s own holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16). To be “holy” is to be separate from all the sinful ways of the world and to be entirely dedicated to following the ways of truth and righteousness. Therefore, God’s people are truly “set apart” from the world. They are not “of” this world.
Christians Will Be Hated By The World And Perceived To Be “Extreme”
Whenever Jesus Christ lived on this earth, the world did not embrace Him. In fact, many times, the world did not even understand Jesus – because His message was one that was spiritually focused (while the world was focused on worldly things). Then, in addition to Jesus’ teachings, the world hated Jesus because He was exposing their wickedness – both by His teachings and by His sinless life.
Listen to the words recorded by John in John 3:19-21: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
The world loves to practice its own wickedness – and hates to have its wickedness exposed as such. Therefore, whenever Jesus came to this world (as the light of the world), the world hated Him (John 15:18). And, not only did the world hate Jesus, but Jesus said that the world will hate those who follow His ways. In John 15:19, He said, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet, because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
Just as the world did not fully understand Jesus’ purpose and His ways, the world will not truly be able to understand the purpose and ways of those who follow Jesus Christ. Therefore, the world frequently will consider Christians to be “extreme” or “radical” for how they live. For instance, when Paul and Silas had come to the city of Thessalonica to preach the gospel, some opponents of the gospel said, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (Acts 17:6).
Areas In Which The Christian Will Be Extreme
The Christian will be using the Bible as his/her guide through every area of life. He/she will not be living for the purpose of being alienated from the world. Instead, he/she will naturally be alienated from the world and be perceived as being “radical” as he/she adopts what God’s word teaches in his/her own life.
(1) The Christian will be “radical” in thought. The Christian’s thoughts are not going to be shaped by the world or by the world’s philosophies. Instead, the Christian’s mind will be shaped by the truth that God reveals. This is because the Christian is spiritually minded rather than carnally minded (Romans 8:5-8). The Christian has set his/her mind on “things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-4).
(2) The Christian will be “radical” in word. As the Christian looks to God’s word to shape his/her life, the Christian will be speaking different from the world. According to Ephesians 5:4, there is a kind of speech that is “not fitting” for those who are God’s holy people to be engaged in. Therefore, the Christian will be devoted to putting away all lying, corrupt speech, foolish talking, etc. in order to put on the kind of speech that is trained according to the holy ways of God (see Ephesians 4:25, 29; 5:3-4).
(3) The Christian will be “radical” in deed. As the Christian looks to God’s word to shape his/her life, the Christian will be living different from the world. 1 Peter 1:13-16 says that, as obedient children, the Christian must not be conforming his/her life to the ways of his/her former sinful conduct. Instead, as God is holy, the Christian must also be holy (set apart from the ways of sin and devoted to righteousness) in all of his/her conduct. Read Colossians 3 to see how the mind that is set on the things of God will be producing a life that refuses to practice the sinful things of this world and that produces actions that are according to God’s holiness.
(4) The Christian will be “radical” in accomplishing God’s work. Not only will the Christian be entirely devoted to God privately; but, he/she will also be willing to put his/her faith into practice and accomplish all of the things God requires. Therefore, like Jesus, this will include exposing sin in the lives of others and pointing them to the salvation that is in Jesus Christ.
The Christian must not just be a religious person who has some personal convictions. Instead, the Christian must be wholly invested in living according to the ways of God. And, when this happens, the Christian will be perceived as being “radical” by those who are not totally committed to doing the will of God. Will you be this committed to serving God?