Called To Be Different
Perhaps you’ve seen a T.V. commercial advertising for new members to join their particular religion. One series of commercials you might find on the air specifically caters to people who want a relationship with Jesus as long as they don’t have to change their lifestyle. Each commercial is designed to show how this “church” is more tolerant than other religious groups, and always ends with the same statement: “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here…” This is the basic religious philosophy of many religious groups in the “community church” movement. The basic idea is that God loves you just as you are, and He’s not really concerned with how you live your life as long as you “love” Him.
Unfortunately for those who have bought into this recent philosophy, the Bible couldn’t be more clear that God demands that people change all of their behavior in order to meet Him on His terms:
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth. (1 Peter 1:14–17 emph. added)
Here we learn that God commands His children to be “obedient” to the point that all of our behavior becomes “holy” just like our Father is. Some scoff at this idea, saying that it’s impossible for men and women to be “holy” like God is. If this were impossible…then God wouldn’t have commanded it of us. The fact is that He does command it, and He will “judge according to each one’s work.”
There is only one way that our lives, our thoughts, our tendencies can be completely transformed to match the holy One who called us. We must “fix our hope completely” on God’s promised reward of grace to those who remain faithful to Him (1 Peter 1:13).
Some may balk, “That’s not fair! God can’t expect me to change everything for Him!” Actually He does have that prerogative. After all, He is the One who chose to offer us salvation in the first place, and therefore He is the only One who has the right to set the terms of our relationship (1 Peter 1:1-2). If you made the decision to accept to be a part of God’s new covenant, then you have accepted a call to a holy life; those are the terms He set. You cannot have Jesus in your life if you’re unwilling to adopt a life of holy conduct.
Yes God is a God of mercy, love and grace…but He’s also a righteous God of judgment to those unwilling to obey Him. If we neglect to live holy lives that conform to the scriptures then God’s nature demands impartial judgment. If we would rather continue in our “former lusts” that characterized us before we became God’s children, then we should be utterly terrified to meet our God. Just “being yourself” is what separated you from God in the first place. If we want God to restore our relationship we cannot “come as we are.” Therefore “conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth,” (1 Peter 1:17).