Monday, January 5, 2009

Sore Thumbs

Ever gone out of town, and eaten at a popular local dive? You walk in and feel like all eyes are on you…because they are!

Or, perhaps you’ve been on vacation and have your digital camera on your person everywhere you go. There’s no hiding the fact that you are an out-of-towner. A tourist.

But, what about in your “normal” surroundings? In your hometown, your place of work, or just out in the community? Do you ever stick out? Or, do you blend in?

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase: “To be in the world, but not of the world.” While that exact phrase cannot be found in scripture, I believe they are words to live by. God put each of us here to make a difference in others’ lives and to impact His kingdom. Not to get caught up in what the “world” offers.

But, how can we avoid getting swept up in what the world offers? Certainly, it’s easier said than done. But, there are appropriate – and necessary – measures we can take to prevent it.

In his book The Best Question Ever, Andy Stanley paints a picture of blending in with the world’s value system. When we go to the beach, we’ll run out into the ocean and play in the waves. Before long, we look up and we’re 100 yards down the beach from where we first entered the water! We got swept away by the current, but it happened so subtly and gradually, we didn’t notice.

The same thing happens in our lives. We don’t set out to make poor decisions or sacrifice the best things in our lives. It happens bit by bit. And, without realizing it, the TV shows we’ve been watching, the habits we’ve picked up, and the damaging relationships we’ve gotten ourselves into have put us way off course.

According to Stanley, we’ve got to establish a point of reference. Just like being in the ocean, and drifting down the coast, we have a tendency to lose sight of where we need to be. Andy said his dad would set up a stack of rocks about 50 yards down the beach. When he got to that point of reference (the rocks), he would get out of the water and walk back. It was a visual reminder – simple, but powerful.

We need the same types of reminders for ourselves – ethically, morally, and spiritually. We need to develop guidelines and boundaries – points of reference – for our journey here on earth. Otherwise, we’ll just “go with the flow” and compromise our character – and hurt those most dear to us – along the way.

God wants people who will stick out – like sore thumbs. He’s desperate for people who will look, act, and live differently than the earthly standard. He wants people who follow him, and who love and serve others. He wants people who swim against the current, not those who drift.

I believe Jesus said it best in his Sermon on the Mount: "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matthew 5:14-15

Just as a sore thumb sticks out, a bright light cannot (and should not) be hidden. In fact, the darker the night, the brighter that light shines.

Don’t drift. Put your feet down, and look to the One who continues to offer all He has just so He can walk with you!

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