“Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load” (Gal 6:4)
When my twin boys Aaron and Jordan were little, I had fun dressing them in matching outfits. In fact their whole wardrobe consisted of double sets of everything. I had prayed for twins, and by golly, I was determined to play this to the hilt. But much to my chagrin, my boys complained about their identical designer wear years later. Aaron asked “Mom, why did you always dress us alike? Sometimes I didn’t know if I was me or my brother!” We had a real identity crisis on our hands, I tell you what.
Somewhere down the path of Christianity, we have lost our identities. We have picked up the Christian cookie cutter code of conduct so we’ll fit in with all the other Christians. There is an unspoken law that says in order to be a Christian, we must look and act like Christians. The Code of conduct may include the following:
Church attire: No jeans, flip-flops or unruly hair. Some people even take this to the extreme. A couple I knew had the impression that once the Holy Spirit got a hold of you, you would suddenly start dressing nicer. This led them to believe that the Holy Spirit would rub off of them and onto the next guy. They claimed that they yielded such a great influence on one new believer, that he soon traded in his faded jeans and wrinkled shirt for a suit, all because he sat next to them (dressed in their finery) in the pew. I seriously doubt that God cares what we wear. What about the people in third world countries? I can’t picture the Maasai of East Africa emerging from their grass huts on Sunday morning wearing 3-piece suits and sporting a leather case for their Bibles, can you?
Prohibition on” Eat, drink and be merry:” You would be surprised at how many Christians frown upon their brothers and sisters in Christ who smoke or drink. Obviously everything in moderation should apply here. We shouldn’t condone alcoholism, for example, but having an occasional glass of wine certainly isn’t taboo. After all, Jesus drank wine, and He even changed water into wine for a wedding. We were eating at a restaurant once with some friends from church. I ordered a glass of wine, and was immediately shot down with so many self-righteous glares, that I quickly changed my wine to water.
Works, works, works: Though you’ll hear it preached from the pulpit that we can’t earn salvation with our works, there remains an unspoken creed in the church that the workers are superior to the non-workers. There is an ongoing competition to get involved in some sort of ministry, for the sake of appearing righteous. But remember what pure and undefiled religion looks like to Jesus – it’s not serving on committees or attending meetings, it’s looking after orphans and widows (James 1:27).
If anyone disobeys the code of conduct, they are immediately judged as hopeless sinners, and cast out like misfits from the inner circle at church. So I guess we can assume if we don’t look like Christians, talk like Christians, dress like Christians or busy ourselves like Christians, we’re not really Christians. I wish more people would take Paul’s words to heart that we shouldn’t compare ourselves with others. We each have our own unique gifts and talents, but unless we live out our God given freedom, we’re likely to succumb to the robotic rite of passage in the church. Let’s take our calling to follow Christ to the next level, and strive to not just fit in with everyone else, but to stand out in a crowd.
We weren’t all made from the same batch of dough. Some are sugar, some are oatmeal, and others are chocolate chip or macaroon. So don’t get any half-baked ideas that your dough is the only dough in the oven. Personally, God broke the cookie cutter when He made me, so I don’t plan on blending in with the masses and ending up at the bakery with a dozen other cookies. Instead I’m going to take off running like the gingerbread man.