Peter, in 1.Pet.4:3-4 tells Christians they have already wasted enough time serving the devil, participating in the sinful practices of the world. It is time for them to change their lives and spend the rest of their time (however much time remains) doing the will of God. But in doing so the world will think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.”
Why is it that living the Christian life is considered to be “strange” to the world? The people of the world have lived so long in sin and their consciences have become so desensitized that they have lost all sense of truth and righteousness. So, when they see Christians no longer practicing the immorality and wickedness they enjoyed in the past, this seems strange to them.
Christians do not think and act like the world around them for they are God’s own special people 1.Pet.2:9. They have a different allegiance. They now follow, serve and obey Christ, rather than man Acts 5:29. They follow a different creed (belief, faith), one that comes from heaven (the New Testament) 1.Thes.2:13, not the words and traditions of men Mk.7:6-9. They now worship a different God Jn.4:23-24, whose ways are not those of man Isa.55:8-9. They also have a different hope for the future Phil.3:20-22; Col.3:1-3. So, they are naturally seen as different and strange from the rest of the world since they don’t follow the mainstream of society morally or religiously. They do not let the world define and set the standards of right and wrong for them. They have been transformed into a new life in Christ 2.Cor.5:17; Rom.12:1-2.
Even though the above things are true many who claim to be Christians don’t want to be thought of as strange. People find it difficult to be different. When seen from a human standpoint it is not easy to be different. To be different means you will be in a minority, and human nature doesn’t like that. Generally, those in the minority are considered outcasts, rebels, unpopular with friends and neighbors. The human desire is to be able to agree with people and retain their good will. So when one varies from the norm socially, morally or religiously he can expect to suffer some unpleasantness. Not being in the mainstream is not very pleasant because it constantly puts a person on the defensive, always having to defend what and why one does or does not believe and practice certain things.
Why be different? What would justify people wanting to be different socially, morally and religiously? Certainly it should not just for the sake of being different. Christians are different because they have been called to a much higher standard. Jesus taught “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” Matt.5:20. They want to be God’s unashamed workmen 2.Tim.2:15. They know God has called them out of the world to be His own special people 2.Thes.2:13-14; 2.Cor.6:17-18; 1.Pet.2:9-12; Tit.2:14, called to be holy as He is holy 1.Pet.1:12-16.
The Christian’s strangeness with the world involves matters of truth, righteousness and faith in opposition to sin, error and opinion. Those who have strong convictions about truth, righteousness and faith will always be unalterably opposed to error, sin and opinion. The two sides are totally incompatible, and the line between them must be drawn sharply and distinctly 2.Cor.6:14-16; Amos 3:3; Matt.7:13-14.
But, today this line has become blurred because the world has infiltrated the thinking of many members of the Lord’s church. They want to be recognized as Christians, but don’t want to be seen as “strange” or different from their friends in the denominational world. The religious world, generally speaking, offers convenience, popularity and entertainment to attract and keep members. They are religious but not overly concerned about being scripturally correct. They practice a form of godliness but deny its power 2.Tim.3:5. So, to keep from being considered “too strange” some members of the Lord’s church follow the path of least resistance. They imitate practices that are popular to the world, but cannot be justified by scripture. The use of contemporary music (spell it entertainment), family life centers, fluff sermons, etc.) may attract people to the building, and keep the members from being thought strange by the world, but they are still unscriptural and will keep them out of heaven unless they change their attitudes.
Preachers are certainly not immune from this problem. Their preaching has contributed a great deal in blurring the line of separation between the world and the church with indistinct preaching of “smooth words and flattering speeches” Rom.16:18. They allow unscriptural practices because they are more concerned with money, prestige and popularity than preaching the truth that saves. So, they shun to declare the whole counsel of God. Sin is condoned rather than condemned Jer.5:30-31; 2.Tim.4:1-5. Many churches that claim to be of Christ have developed a country club appearance, offering a cafeteria style religion. Religion becomes entertainment rather than worship to God Jn.4:23-24. Notice some of the churches in Rev.2, 3. Whom do we serve? Gal.1:10. The scripture remains true, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” Col.3:17.
So, please don’t be afraid of being thought strange by the world. If you are really a Christian you will be living a life that is radically different from the rest of the world. Yes, being thought strange by the world may bring difficulty in this world but God has given assurance that it will be well later Heb.10:35-39. While we are in the minority here, with God we will be in the final majority Rom.8:31-39. We are happy in the knowledge that we don’t differ with God, only with those who oppose Him. By serving God we have unspeakable joy, with the promise of an eternal inheritance 1.Pet.1:4-8. Christians will be victorious along with Christ Rev.17:14; 1.Cor.15:57.