Jesus followers are called to be “set apart” from the world. Can we think about what this means? And what it doesn’t mean?
We should be exceptional! We should be excellent in all we do. We should take the high road. We should require pure motives for our actions. We place selfish gain secondary to the greater good. We should see the good in people. We should offer grace and forgiveness when it is clearly not deserved. But we should have exceptionally clear values, and stand up against any kind of mistreatment of people. We should be globally minded – the world needs Jesus, and we should be eager to help provide hope to all nations.
What it doesn’t mean? “Set apart” doesn’t mean stuck up, doesn’t mean isolated and separate. Doesn’t mean better than. Pride is ugly, not exceptional.
Doesn’t mean we protect our own interests. We should tear down the walls that divide people and nations from each other. In order to care we have to let our guard down and be vulnerable. Not being weak, but trusting God and taking risks. Doesn't mean we have no healthy boundaries; it means we are confident enough to engage across the aisle, across the road, across town, and across borders.
Doesn’t mean we keep our hands clean and our boots dry – to be the hands and feet of Jesus we’re going to need to get into the thick of it. We can’t keep silent or spend too much time in the closet or in our own enclaves. We will be too passionate to keep it to ourselves.
We are called to a higher standard! But that higher standard includes exceptional humility, compassion and love, so it can’t mean we think we are special. That would be a double standard. We are called to be perfect! But we are human and flawed, so we should be perfect in admitting that and trusting God to bring about all that is Good in us and in others.
We must seek greatness while elevating others above ourselves.
Being human is complicated! But Jesus did it – let’s just follow his example.
So those who are last will be first. And those who are first will be last.Matthew 20:16, in the parable about God's view of fairness. Maybe we should read that one again.