What Does Different Look Like?

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See full series: lights-in-a-dark-world-2019

What Does Different Look Like?

Sermon by  Thomas Thornhill Jr

Passage: 1 Peter 4:3-4



Sunday, March 10, 2019     



  We are continuing our study of being proper examples.   Up to this point, we have noted numerous examples that show the importance of being a good example.   In today’s lesson, I want to present one final lesson dealing with good examples. We want to address what different looks like.     After this, we want to take some time to discuss the darkness among which we are to shine as lights.

Being different is sometimes considered a good thing in our society.     There are many people who thrive on being different.   Some become outcasts and ridiculed by the “in crowd”, while they are viewed by others as different, whether good or bad.     Many are different just for the sake of being different.

Our goal in this study is to address how God wants us to be different, not just for the sake of it, but because when you serve Him properly you WILL be different.

I.   We are called to be different

  1. Philippians 2:15 – the very idea of our theme is that we are different – we are lights in a dark world.
  2. We are called upon to be separate – 2 Corinthians 6:17.   The idea of being separate would indicate we are different.
  3. They think it strange we do not run with them (as we used to) – 1 Peter 4:3-4.
  4. Romans 12:1-2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed.
  5. God’s following has almost always been a minority or remnant.   Think of Abraham leaving Ur and Haran, Noah – one of 8 souls saved from the flood, Israel was not a great nation, but God chose them, etc. Even on Pentecost we read of 3000 souls saved (Acts 2:41), but it is highly likely that such was a minority considering the occasion.

II.    Examples of being different

  1. Many of the examples we have already noted were different – Joseph, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, Esther, etc.
  2. Jesus was different.   In every way He was different.
    He taught differently – with authority (Matthew 7:28-29, John 7:46)
    He frequently drew criticism from the leaders and often the majority.
    Even in Nazareth, His own country, when He returned they saw him as different and rejected Him – Mark 6:1-6.
    Matthew 10:24-25 – He proceeds to warn His disciples that if they called Jesus of Beelzebub, they will much more call his servants that.
  3. Peter and John were different – the apostles, after Pentecost were a special breed of people. They lived their lives different from those around them.     James was the first to be executed (Acts 12:1-2).
    Acts 4:13 notes that though “uneducated” they perceived that “they had been with Jesus.”
    When we are followers of Christ, the world will take notice.
  4. Enoch – we know very little about him.   He is mentioned in the genealogies leading up to Noah (Genesis 5:21-24). All we know about him is that he walked with God and then he was not, for God took him.   Hebrews 11:5 notes that he pleased God.   Jude 14 describes him as a preacher of righteousness.
    How different does one need to be for God to take him so that he does not see death?
  5. Noah was different – at a time when God had determined to destroy the world, we read that Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.   He walked with God, was a just man and perfect in his generation (Genesis 6:8-9). When instructed to build an ark, he obeyed God.   By faith he saved his family, 8 souls (2 Peter 2:5, Hebrews 11:7).
    Different mean we do what is right, even when everyone else is doing wrong.
  6. Joshua and Caleb were different – Numbers 14:6-7 records them pleading with the people to go take the land (though the other 10 spies had given a negative report).
    They dared to trust in God, while everyone around them criticized and complained.
  7. David as he confronted Goliath was different – there are many occasions in the life of David where we see different. One specific occasion while young was when he confronted Goliath – Israel with all its warriors cowered at this 9+ foot giant, the warrior of the Philistines (1 Samuel 17:4).     David, visiting his brothers at the battle field is insulted when he hears the blasphemies of this giant.   He offers to fight him and defeats him with a sling and a stone (1 Samuel 17:50).
    His willingness to stand motivated the people to fight for the LORD and they gained a great victory that day.
  8. John the Baptist was different – in the wilderness, eating locust and wild honey, he preaches the coming Messiah. The people go out to see him, including the religious leaders.   John rebukes them and calls for repentance (Matthew 3)
    John’s actions result in him being imprisoned and executed by Herod’s wife who hated him (Mark 6:16-29).
  9. Paul was different – mentioned again, as an example even in this, we find an incredible example in standing for what is right, regardless of the circumstances.
    Consider all that he gave up to follow Christ – Philippians 3:4-8.
    Consider the criticisms he faced from the Corinthian brethren because he chose to not be supported by them. Consider all that he endured as he preached Christ – 2 Corinthians 11:22-28.
    You find someone with purpose and willing to be different even if it costs him everything earthly.
  10. Barnabas was different – known as the son of encouragement, we always finding him standing up for others. He stood up for Paul, when the brethren were hesitant to accept him at Jerusalem (Acts 9:26-27). He stood up for Mark, when Paul didn’t want to take him on their second journey (Acts 15:36-39). He was willing to sell land and give the to his needy brethren (Acts 4:36-37).
  11. In all these examples we see the need to stand up and be counted and to be willing to be different.

III.  What does different look like to us?

  1. It doesn’t mean we always have to stand out, just for the sake of being different.   We live in the world, and conduct ourselves with proper decorum.   Recall in the intro, we talked about those who dress differently for the mere sake of being different.   Our difference is because of our convictions.   We’re not trying to be different, but it happens because of our faith.
  2. It doesn’t mean you are the only one – it is important to understand this.   The Bible emphasizes we are a family.   That is the concept of the local church.   We are in the minority, but a family is more than an individual.
    Elijah was discouraged thinking he was alone.   The LORD told him there were 7000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18). Constantly the prophets spoke of God’s remnant.
    BUT, there may be times when you do have to stand alone, in what seems like everyone else.
  3. It means we don’t talk like the world anymore – Matthew 12:34-37 notes that our speech betrays our hearts.     And the Bible has plenty to say about our speech and its impact on others (cf. James 3:1-12).
    Matthew 26:73, when Peter was warming himself, he was associated with Jesus because, “Your speech betrays you.”   That is an interesting thought when we think about being different.
    What do you talk about when around others?   Does your speech betray you?
  4. It means we don’t act like the world anymore.   We have given up the works of the flesh – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (cf. Galatians 5:19-21).
  5. It is seen in the way we dress – modest apparel. 1 Timothy 2:8-9 speaks of women adorning themselves in modest apparel.   Modest means that which is becoming or proper.
    Some many today, wear clothing to make a statement – often immodest and provocative. And we know that clothing is a statement of status, etc.     Christians are to be simple.
    AGAIN, not necessarily drawing undue attention to yourself either way.
  6. We live lives of holiness – 1 Peter 1:13-16.   That means we belong to God, and thus we are not conforming ourselves to our former lusts.
  7. With live with integrity – lacking with so many today.   But the Christian life is to be one of virtue (2 Peter 1:5, Philippians 4:8, “if there is any virtue…meditate on these things.”
  8. We do not love the world or the things of the world – 1 John 2:15-17
  9. We walk by faith – 2 Corinthians 5:7. When we walk, trusting God in everything, it will make us different.   It will be reflected in how we deal with whatever circumstances we are facing.
  10. We think differently – Philippians 2:3-4 – in lowliness of mind; 2 Corinthians 10:5 – we bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.   We have that “other worldly” perspective.
  11. It is seen in how we treat our enemies – Matthew 5:43-44, Romans 12:18-21
  12. We defend our faith – 1 Peter 3:15. Matthew 5:14-15 tells us we don’t hide our light under a basket.
  13. We openly confess our Lord – Matthew 10:32-33, Mark 8:38 – “whoever is ashamed of Me…”
  14. In summary, different means we are seeking first the kingdom of God – Matthew 6;33, Colossians 3:1-2, and it shows in every aspect of our lives.


Conclusion: The gospel changes people.   That can be a good thing.   When this dark world, that is hurting so much now, sees how the gospel can change someone, that is what will spark an interest in learning more. So are we different? Is God pleased with that difference?