Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Are Christians Discernibly Different?

William Barclay in his commentary on Ephesians (p. 89):
Here is the challenge that the modern Church has been very slow to face. In the early Church, Christians never had any doubt that they must be different from the world; they, in fact, knew that they must be so different that the probability was that the world would kill them and the certainty was that the world would hate them. But the tendency in the modern Church has been to play down the difference between the Church and the world. We have, in effect, often said to people: ‘As long as you live a decent, respectable life, it is quite all right to become a church member and to call yourself a Christian. You don’t need to be so very different from other people.’ In fact, Christians should be easily identifiable in the world.

It must always be remembered that this difference on which Christ insists is not one which takes us out of the world; it makes us different within the world. It should be possible to identify Christians in the school, the shop, the factory, the office, the hospital ward, everywhere. And the difference is that Christians behave not as any human laws compel them to, but as the law of Christ compels them to. Christian teachers are out to satisfy the regulations not of an education authority or a headteacher but of Christ; and that will almost certainly mean a very different attitude to the pupils under their charge. Christian workers are out to satisfy the regulations not of a trade union but of Jesus Christ; and that will certainly make them very different workers. Christian doctors will never regard a sick person as a case, but always as a person. Christian employers will be concerned with far more than the payment of minimum wages or the creation of minimum working conditions. It is the simple fact of the matter that if enough Christians became hagios [the Greek word for "holy"] different, they would revolutionize society.

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