The older I get, the more I appreciate “throw away the mold” kinds of people. You know, the ones who are unlike anyone else you’ve ever met. They seem refreshingly unfettered by conformity, living instead in the uniqueness of who they are. If the opinions of others matter to them, it certainly doesn’t show through personal constraint! No, these gems stand out like pearls in a jeweler’s tray of rubies.
Most of us are more conventional, bending our appearance, our actions, and our speech to the unspoken expectations of others. Our desire for approval tempers our expression of individuality. For the Christian, the divide between who we are and the norms of society is even greater, for we have come to exalt God’s ways that are so different than our own. We are, as Peter observed, “strangers in the world.”1 Sadly, in order to “fit in,” then, we stifle our identity, in part concealing Christ who lives in us, which is a shame because, in so doing, we miss amazing opportunities to impact the world around us in profound and eternal ways. Deep down, it is not more sameness people want, but authenticity—they want “real.” People search for liberty in life and certainty in truth. They seek light in their darkness; they crave water for their dryness.
Aren’t all of these things found in Christ? Haven’t we discovered in Him the treasures we all dream about—goodness and kindness, fullness and hope, forgiveness and faithfulness, and mercy and grace? There is no “same old, same old” about Jesus, only fulfillment ever fresh.
How tragic it is when we, in faintness of heart, obscure Jesus before a people longing to behold Him in an unencumbered view. He lives in us not as one to be constrained in our weakness of character, but as one to be proclaimed in the freedom of rebirth in Christ.
When it comes down to it, binding ourselves to the expectations of others is one of the greatest obstacles to our effectiveness as Jesus’ followers. We are accepted, loved, and treasured by the God who knows everything there is to know about us, free to “shine like stars in the universe as [we] hold out the word of life.”2 Then overflowing in this grace, let us exude the life, truth, and love of Christ, not defensively or fearfully, but eagerly and gladly. Let us leave behind our timid pursuit of conditional approval and, instead, strive to show people the full and eternal acceptance they will find in Christ.
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. (Proverbs 29:25)
1 1 Peter 1:1
2 Philippians 2:15, 16
Today’s post is an excerpt from Christ in Me. Copyright © 2016 Paul Nordman. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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See today’s Scripture in John 15:18-37.