Turning Points Magazine & Devotional

June 2024 Issue

Faith Keepers

From the February 2024 Issue

Standing Out From the Crowd: Great Expectations for You

Standing Out From the Crowd: Great Expectations for You

The world is watching us. The world has always been watching the Church with a mixture of cynicism and fascination. When the apostles began preaching the Gospel after the ascension of Christ, the leaders of Jerusalem didn’t know what to make of it. Acts 4:13 says, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”

When Paul and his party showed up in the city of Thessalonica, the people said, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (Acts 17:6).

The Lord has great expectations for our words, attitudes, and conduct.

Peter told his readers to keep their “conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God” (1 Peter 2:12).

How do you think the Church is doing now when it comes to boldness, acting as those who have been with Jesus, turning the world upside down, and conducting ourselves honorably? How do our neighbors see us?

We could all improve, couldn’t we? The Lord has great expectations for our words, attitudes, and conduct. After all, like it or not, the unsaved are always watching how we Christians handle life and interface with others.

If we’re not careful, we can take matters into our own hands and descend into self-righteous revenge or retribution. We know what it’s like to want to settle scores and pick fights with those with whom we disagree. The letters or epistles in the New Testament are written largely to tell us how Christians should think, believe, and live.

We can sum it all up in one word: Christlikeness.

The more we study and memorize Scripture, the more we’ll speak like Jesus.

Jesus came from heaven to earth to fulfill His work and be about His Father’s business. Along the way, He provided a perfect—literally perfect—model for us. God had great expectations for Christ, and Jesus fulfilled every one of them down to the tiniest detail.

We can represent Christ on earth better by examining how He stood out from the crowd and lived up to His Father’s expectations.

The Words of Jesus Were Scriptural

Jesus had a marvelous way of engaging people and crowds in conversation. Don’t you wish you could have heard the sound of His voice, its volume, richness, pitch, and articulation? One day we’ll hear that powerful voice audibly, but the Gospel writers understood that what He said was even more important than how He sounded.

Everything Jesus did was designed to meet the needs of others.

He spoke biblically, teaching the Scriptures as though He were the author, speaking with authority, with the ability to snatch phrases and verses from the Old Testament and drive them home with incisiveness.

The more we study and memorize Scripture, the more we’ll speak like Jesus. It’s not simply a matter of quoting verses to someone. It’s a matter of approaching every conversation with a biblical worldview, speaking with wisdom and winsomeness.

Somewhere along the course of his varied career, Ronald Reagan began writing on note cards the various quotes, quips, and stories that impressed him in his wide-ranging reading. Gradually, the material on his note cards made its way into his speeches and conversation. Many Christians have done something similar, finding quotes, poems, verses, and insights to record in a notebook or on cards. Ruth Bell Graham was a master at this, and seldom did she chat with someone without imparting some sparkling bit of practical wisdom.

Let’s accumulate our own mental treasure chests of Scriptures, hymns, quotes, and insights, fulfilling Colossians 4:6: “Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone” (NLT).

The Actions of Jesus Were Selfless

When it came to His actions, one thing is clear—everything Jesus did was designed to meet the needs of others. The beginning of His ministry is recorded in Matthew 4:23: “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.” When He died on the Cross, it was to meet the deepest spiritual and eternal needs of all the world. Between His initial work in Galilee and His redemptive work on the Cross, Jesus wore Himself out ministering to others. On one occasion, He was so tired He fell asleep in a storm-tossed boat (Matthew 8:24).

The older we grow in the Lord, the more frightened we become that there’s too much “self” in our lives and labor. Serving Christ isn’t a matter of fulfilling our aspirations; it’s a matter of fulfilling the needs of others. John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30), and Paul said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Take those two verses and turn them into your own prayer so that your actions will be more like—and motivated like—those of Jesus.

The Understanding of Jesus Was Sympathetic

When Jesus looked at the world around Him, He had sympathetic compassion. Listen to these verses: “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them…. So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes…. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her…. Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him” (Matthew 9:36; 20:34; Luke 7:13; Mark 1:41).

When the healed demoniac asked to travel with Jesus, the Lord told him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you” (Mark 5:19).

It couldn’t be clearer. To be like Jesus, we have to look at people with compassion. Jesus loves each person in our world. He gave His life for them. Remembering this truth helps us see others through eyes of compassion, just as Jesus sees them—someone in need of a Savior.

Jesus showed compassion to those who were often rejected by others: Zacchaeus the crooked tax collector, the Samaritan woman in her immorality, the woman caught in adultery, the lepers, the beggars, the blind, and those suffering from loathsome illnesses.

We continually have to ask ourselves if we’re reflecting the sympathetic and compassionate heart of Christ. It’s often hard to know how best to help others—the homeless, for example. But compassion is a godly way to start.

The Work of Jesus Was Spirit-Filled

Finally, the work of Jesus was supernatural. He wasn’t nation-building. He was people-building and Kingdom-building, and all His work was done in the power of the Holy Spirit. Just as He served His Father in the power of the Spirit, we need to serve Him with the same spiritual power.

Major Ian Thomas reminds us that Jesus ascended to heaven only to return to His disciples, in a certain sense, on the Day of Pentecost through His indwelling Holy Spirit, “now to be in them imparting to them His own divine nature, clothing Himself with their humanity, so that they each became ‘members in particular’ of a new, corporate body through which Christ expressed Himself to the world.”1

It’s not us working for Christ; it is the Lord Himself working through us by means of His Holy Spirit. This work is focused on building a heavenly Kingdom, not an earthly empire. Even the smallest personal ministry, done sincerely for Christ, will be impactful to someone in ways we’ll only understand in heaven. There are no small churches, small acts of kindness, or small attempts at ministry. They may seem small to us, but our work is never in vain when done in and for the Lord.

Like Jesus, we need to be about our Father’s business, standing out from the crowd, separate from the world, and Christlike in our words, actions, sympathy, and Spirit-filled work.

Oh, my friend, let’s be more Christlike in our response to this broken world. Even in a compromised culture, the Word tells us to reflect Jesus in all we say and do. Though we live in a society that doesn’t embrace Christian values, we’re to live up to God’s great expectations—just as Jesus did.

Let’s stand up, and let’s stand out!

Sources:

1Major Ian Thomas, The Saving Life of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1961), 15.

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