Christians are aliens
Do people think you are weird for being a Christian? Maybe that's a good thing!
Do you ever have that feeling that you're being watched? Like someone is watching your every move, listening to every word you say, as if they're waiting for you to trip up and do something stupid?
Well, the scary fact is that as Christians, we are being watched. Probably one of the hardest things about being a Christian is that some of our friends and family will be watching our lives very closely, analysing what we do and say. Sometimes, it's because they want to know what it's like to be a Christian. Other times, it's because they want to find fault with you.
So what do we do?
Well I've seen Christians respond in a few different ways.
The 'try and be a normal person' approach
Sometimes, we Christians want to show our friends that we are 'normal people', and in many ways we are! We wear the same clothes, listen to the same music, watch the same TV shows and all that. But the problem is that if we become 'too normal', we start to blend in. We go along with what our friends do, even if it's sinful. We decide that standing out as different is uncomfortable to our friendships and so we compromise our standards. This is unhelpful, because we start hiding our faith away as if it means nothing to us. I remember early on in my Christian life, I used to swear a lot around my mates, because I didn't want to stand out.
The other fact is that we're not 'normal'! The Bible says that we are 'aliens and strangers in the world' (1 Peter 2:11), and that we belong to heaven, not earth. We are children of God, forgiven and adopted into his family. We're definately not normal.
The 'stand up and fight' approach
Other times, we Christians stand out for the wrong reasons. Usually it's because we love a good fight. We're sitting in Science or Scripture, and we feel threatened or insecure because the lesson on evolution is being used to try to disprove God, and so we feel the need to stand up for ourselves (or the poor scripture teacher) and fight back. But this is also unhelpful. Often in anger, we end up saying things that we'll regret later on, or people will just realise that to get us angry, all they have to do is mention evolution, and it's on for young and old.
It's so important that rather than standing out for being fiesty, we take a deep breath, count to 10, and then respond graciously and patiently.
The 'stand out for good reasons' approach
But sometimes, we Christians stand out for good reasons. And I reckon we can think and pray and try to do this a whole lot more. We can stand out by being honest - not lying about what we got up to on the weekend. We can stand out by being patient - not getting into fights or quarrels easily. We can stand out by being gracious - not feeling like we need to win every argument. We can stand out by being faithful and caring - looking for people who could use a bit of friendship, and being friendly. We can stand out by being forgiving, merciful, not gossippers, not stirring up hate and a whole host of other ways.
But why? Because the way we act and speak can make a huge impact on people's understanding of Jesus, and their impression of his followers. Two verses to encourage you: 1 Peter 2:11-12 says: "Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, through they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us."
We are different, so let's live out our faith in action, so that our actions match our words about Jesus.
And lastly, (an obscure one!) Zechariah 8:23 has this cool little vision of a Jew who is living God's way, and the effect he has on others as he stands out for God: "This is what the LORD Almighty says: "In those days, ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, 'Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.'"
As you stand out (for good reasons), people will notice, and they will ask questions. Hopefully and prayerfully, some will want the relationship with God that you have. I've seen people turn to Jesus because of the way their friends have stood out at school. You have a great privilege in being a child of God, and a great responsibility to live that out and share it with others.