One of the oft-repeated statements in Christian culture is "be in the world but not of the world." What does that mean? Simply put, as Christians we are supposed to be engaged with the people of the world without being influenced by the ways of the world. There's solid truth in that statement, however, we've done a terrible job of pulling it off. The truth is, there is so little difference between "the world" and "the Church" that it is nearly impossible to tell one from the other.
Throughout the history of God's people He has called them to be set apart from the peoples that surround them. God called Abraham out of a suburb of the Plains of Shinar (think Tower of Babel) which was a hotbed of false religion and idolatry. He called the Israelites out of Egypt and gave them a land that was slam full of false religion. However, as God gave Israel the Promised Land, He also called them to be different than the people that inhabited the land. Even in captivity God's people stood out from the crowd because they were different than everyone else. Daniel and his three friends; Hananiah, Mishel and Azariah went against the flow of culture and the ruling authorities.
Then there is the Church, the beautiful Bride of Christ, founded upon the faith of the apostles. Remember those twelve misfits that were called away from what they were doing to be followers of Christ Jesus. After the resurrection they would stand toe-to-toe with the religious elite and declare that they were walking a different path. Paul put it so clearly and plainly in Colossians 1:13,
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.
You see, there is supposed to be something different about Christ-followers. We're not supposed to blend in. We are to be odd, strange, unlike the others. I fear we've lost some of that otherness and separateness these days.
To be separate does not mean we remove ourselves from the world. How would we be the salt and light if we did so? Rather, to be separate means to remain salty in a world that tries desperately to water us down. To be separate does not mean be different for difference sake. It means being different for His name's sake.
In our family we are committed to striving to be different - set apart. This is not because we are special, or super-spiritual and think people should do things the way we do them. It is because we are convinced that God has called all of His children, "to be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine" (Leviticus 20:26).
For us, being set apart applies to every area of our lives. It informs the way we handle money, raise our children, budget our time, prioritize our activities, develop our values, treat other people and so on. Please do not mistake this for some form of misguided legalism because it is not. If we take God's Word seriously I can't see anyway He doesn't have a say-so in every area of my existence in this life and the next.
Like Paul says in Philippians 3, we haven't attained perfection yet and we're still pressing on toward the prize of the call of Christ. So, we would just like to invite you along on the journey. Maybe, just maybe you can gain some encouragement from our struggles and victories.