Joseph Herrin (12-18-2010)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
Have you ever stopped to consider that as a Christian your life is supposed to stand out from the rest of mankind? How can one who sees into spiritual realms, and hears the voice of the invisible Creator, fail to appear as odd, bizarre, or stamped with strangeness to those who walk only in a material world? In an hour when Christians are seeking to become like the world that their message might appear “relevant,” what is really needed is for the world to observe the strangeness of those who belong to Christ.
Salt that is potent changes everything it comes in contact with. Light that shines in the darkness cannot avoid drawing the attention of all observing it. It is when the mass of professing Christians have lost their distinctiveness, when their light has become darkness, that they are able to find acceptance in a sinful world. Yet this acceptance comes at a high cost. To be an associate of the world, a child of God must cast away all that would makes them distinctive and different.
As much as the world proclaims the virtues of tolerance and diversity, they do not truly value such things. If you are light and they are darkness; if you are righteous and they are unrighteous; if you walk in truth and they hold to lies; if you see into the Kingdom of God and hear God’s voice while they do not, then you will find that there is no room for your distinctiveness. It must be set aside in order for you to be accepted by fallen mankind. You must become as the world to achieve harmony in the world. A great many Christians are willing to do so.
The vast majority of Christians today have set aside their strangeness that they might not appear as strangers to the world. Men seek the approval of other men, even lost men who are headed for destruction, when they should be living for the approval of God. Those who have been born again of the Spirit of Christ are often quickly turned aside from the path of life. Wanting to have what the rest of the world has requires that they fit in to a large degree. They cannot exist outside of the systems of this world and achieve worldly success and comfort, so they become like the world. Their doctrines change by degree until Christianity is no more than a moral creed promising to be a good citizen and consumer.
Yahweh has always been seeking a people who are willing to come out of the world system, to live on the margins, to dwell outside the camp. He is looking for those who will abide in spiritual realms while their feet are yet upon the earth. To be devoted to walk with the God of light and truth and righteousness, one must embrace strangeness, aloneness, separation. How could it be otherwise?
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares Yahweh. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts…”
When Yahweh calls a people out of the world, and this people who have been walking in the ways of fallen man suddenly begin walking in the ways of God, there must be conflict. How can one change direction, how can the entire basis for one’s thoughts and actions be altered, and those around fail to observe it?
The Scriptures reveal that those who are born again of the Spirit are to stand apart from the rest of the world. That something very radical has occurred should be observable. Their lives should be stamped with strangeness.
Christians speak much today of being Abraham’s descendants, his spiritual seed. Yet they fail to consider the experience of Abraham and his descendants. Abraham is a type and shadow of those who are people of faith today. From the moment Yahweh called Abraham to LEAVE his home, his family, and all that was familiar, his life became that of the stranger and alien.
Then Abraham rose… and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, “I am a stranger and a sojourner among you…”
Abraham followed the voice of God when other men discerned not the voice. Abraham must surely have appeared strange to all who met him. He was given dreams and promises which he could not disclose to those he dwelt among. How could Abraham tell the Canaanites that all their land would belong to his descendants one day? How could he walk the length and breadth of the land, believing it was his by promise from Yahweh, yet possessing almost none of it?
This strangeness continued among the descendants of Abraham. His seed were also aliens among a foreign people.
But God spoke to this effect, that his offspring would be aliens in a foreign land, and that they would be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years.
Aliens. Strangers. Sojourners. Spiritual men whose conversation is in heaven while their feet are upon the earth. The result is mistreatment by the world. This is why many seek to diminish their strangeness. To abide in heavenly places one must be ostracized and persecuted on the earth.
II Timothy 3:12
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Yahshua will be persecuted.
ALL who would surrender to be led of the Spirit, to be guided by the Holy Creator, will be persecuted, for His ways are not man’s ways. The Son of God was the perfect expression of His Father. There was no room for Him at the inn at His birth. There was no place for Him to rest His head as an adult. There was no acceptance among His own people when He spoke and performed the will of His Father. His own nation said He had a demon. They said He was mad. In the end they crucified the Lord of glory.
This continues to be the experience of all who would answer the call to be Yahweh’s set apart people today.
I Peter 2:11-12
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers… keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Do not be deceived. The call is still being proclaimed today to all who would be Yahweh’s peculiar possession. You cannot remain as you were in this world and be Yahweh’s man or woman. Your life will certainly be altered radically. All around you will look askance when they see you. They will whisper among themselves about the odd things you do. You will be an anomaly, a pariah. Your own family will no longer receive you.
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it.”
Some are seeking to hide their strangeness that they might avoid persecution. Yet, in doing so, they diminish their own light. Their saltiness is eroded. Seeking to blend in; wanting to avoid conflict and warfare, they are injured spiritually
But they mingled with the nations, and learned their practices, and served their idols, which became a snare to them… Thus they became unclean in their practices, and played the harlot in their deeds. Therefore the anger of Yahweh was kindled against His people, and He abhorred His inheritance.
Recently I wrote of the pagan origins of Christmas. Its date was established to coincide with the winter solstice. At its heart was the worship of the Sun (Sol Invictus). How can Christians deny that they have “mingled with the nations, and learned their practices”? Yet Christmas observance is merely one symptom of a deeper problem. Desiring to not appear strange, Christians have conformed themselves to the world. Their light has become darkened.
What is needed to amend this tragedy? Christians must once more become a “peculiar people.”
I Peter 2:9-11
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God… Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims…
There exists a remnant upon this earth today who walk following a heavenly voice. Many viewing the strangeness of the lives of these ones conclude that they are deluded, deceived, or in some other way are suffering from mental aberration. They are labeled as transgressors of the world’s ways. They experience the lonely life of an alien.
Take comfort if you are one of these. Yahweh’s ways are not man’s ways. Those who walk with Him must of necessity experience such things. When we accept the cost of being Yahweh’s unique possession, being led by His Spirit rather than by the wisdom of the soul of man, we will stand apart and often alone. Yet, when we persist in loving the very ones who would crucify us, enduring all with grace and forgiveness, we are transformed by degrees into the image of the One who purchased us.
As Abraham heard the call long ago, the voice of God is still entreating men and women to “depart” from that which they have known that they might journey to an inheritance they have not known. The church today has chosen another path. Desiring personal comfort and ease above all else, they have chosen a path of conformity, rather than accepting their strangeness. This has led to many transgressions and spiritual harlotry. For this reason the Spirit cries out to Yahweh’s people today:
“Come out of her, my people, that you may not participate in her sins and that you may not receive of her plagues…”
Do you bear upon yourself Yahweh’s stamp of strangeness? Will you accept the reproaches of the world and a worldly church to receive the approval of God? He is seeking those who will count the cost and accept it.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
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