So this can only happen when we accept Jesus in our heart, and probably the majority of you reading this understand that. But acceptance of Jesus is not what I want to talk about (even though that is SUPER important, and growth cannot happen until you do accept Jesus into your heart). What I want to talk about is being in the world, but not of the world. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV)
Once we do accept Jesus into our heart, we have the cork that will block out the world and that makes us set apart. But the devil tries to trick us to take off the cork. He will twist memories and lie and say “Don’t you remember when you went to that party with your friend? Wasn’t it so fun? Surely it won’t be a big deal to do that one more time.” He will try to persuade us into taking off that cork by using TV ads or magazines to convince us that we should fit in with society. And little by little we take off that cork and let in more of the world. Then just a little more. By joining in gossip, or letting lust fill our thoughts, or letting any other sin in. Surely it won’t do any harm right? It’s just a little bit of water in that bottle. But before we know it, we are filled again with the world, and someone just meeting us can’t tell that we’re any different from the world. We try to convince ourselves that, "It’s okay. I still believe in Jesus, and I accepted Him into my heart. That’s enough for me." But we are called to be SO much more than just a believer! We are called to be set apart. We show God to the world by claiming to be a Christian. But if we act just like the world, how can anyone really see who God is?
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:19 NIV). Part of our human nature is to yearn to be accepted and to fit in. But the reality of God is that He is not of the world at all! When Jesus walked the earth, He was ridiculed and hated by many because He defied the way the world told Him He was supposed to be. We are called to be like-Christ. And in the process of living for God, we will be hated and mocked because we are different. But in that, we get to show others who God is. They will see us being different, and having joy. They will wonder how we are so joyful and what makes us so different. Out of that curiosity people may search to know God, and how He makes us so different.
But even if we don’t see any lives changed because of the way we live for God, the only thing that matters is our relationship with Him. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23 NIV). We may believe we’re living for God, but without a true relationship with Him, there is nothing. God knows our intentions behind all those ‘miracles’ and ‘prophesying’. He knows if we meant it to further His kingdom, or to just put ourselves on a pedestal. He knows if we’re sold out for Him, or still letting the water get into our bottle. He knows our heart better than even we know it.
Beyond changing lives and performing miracles, living set apart and sold out for God is all that matters. Fix your eyes on Him, and never move your gaze.