Different or Difference?

It seems our Western culture has become fixated on those who are different. Going against the social norms is applauded, but to what end? Being different is meaningless. But making a difference is everything.

In his time on earth, Jesus was undoubtably the most different character of his day. While other religious leaders were preoccupied with selfish ambition or casting off Roman rule, Jesus was focused on obeying God and helping individuals experience the kingdom of God on earth. As his ambassadors, where should we be focused? Should we be spending our time attempting to correct the many social ills that plague our culture? Or perhaps we need to invest our time and energy into prepping, stocking up on essentials and building ourselves a dooms day bunker in the back yard? Are these the actions Jesus would be doing if he were walking among us today?

A few years ago, the Christian band “4-Him” produced a song entitled “A Lot Like You”. In it they ask the questions, “Has Jesus been disguised by our religion?’ and “Can he really be found in our lives today?” These are piercing questions that go straight to the heart and are worthy of deep self-reflection. The song then offers up this exhortation, “When your words are His words. When your way His way. When your hands are the hands He can use. When your heart’s desire is just to be a heart, He reaches through. That’s when Jesus looks a lot like you.” As we devote ourselves to living this way, we are not only different, but we are making a difference in the world.

Digital media like cell phones and the like have nearly completely offset personal human interaction. In today’s social media avatar lifestyle, imagine how different personal, face to face contact becomes. A word of encouragement posted on Facebook may be helpful, but nothing replaces the warmth of face-to-face personal contact, especially if it’s accompanied by a hug!

Over the next month perhaps we should lay aside our devices and consider going over to visit an old friend? Or maybe a family relationship needs mending? People have all sorts of needs. But the question is, how do I respond? Will I send a text, an email, or post a memorable picture to encourage them? Or will I get out of my comfort zone and seek them out in person? There’s a saying that no man on his death bed ever says, “I wish I had one more day at my job”. Likewise, I don’t believe any of us will grieve over our loss of Facebook or Twitter. But we all will miss our family and friends, who matter most.

I am committed to spend more time with people and less time reading about them. We have so much to offer a hurting soul and the most loving way to present our message is in person. If words alone were sufficient, then Jesus would have simply instructed his followers to distribute tracts. But words aren’t enough. I believe the Apostle Paul summed it up best in his first letter to the Thessalonian believers.

I Thessalonians 2:8
So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.

Let’s be truly different by making a difference in someone’s life!