Across the Pastor’s Desk: Do not conform, but be set apart

Published 8:00 pm Friday, March 15, 2024

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Across the Pastor’s Desk by Ryan Quigley

Growing up, I always would do this thing where I would set something special aside for either protection or for some other purpose. The items would vary over the years, but the goals would always remain the same: it was special and just for me. As an adult, I find myself still doing the same thing. Although now it’s related to projects around the house, or to keep my snacks exclusively for me and out of reach from the prying eyes and hands of my children. Don’t worry— I do share with them.

Ryan Quigley

The amazing thing about this is that we can all relate to that attitude. We keep things close and out of reach from the rest of the world in many ways because the objects we care about are precious to us and not for any common use. This idea about setting things apart is not an original idea to any person. Rather it is something that has been established by our Creator.

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For those who make the decision to follow Jesus Christ, there is something new and special that impacts their lives in a truly transformative way if allowed.

To paraphrase, the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, that those who are in Christ are made new, and the old natures must be gone. I had a teacher once tell me that this “being new” means that I am now out of sync with the rest of the world around me. Going further to say that those of us who make that decision are now special and set apart for God.

Set apart. For God. The times around us seek to make everything inclusive and the same. The idea that no one is left out. The hard part for the Church to be inundate with that mentality, is it removes the need for followers of Christ to really appreciate the need to be set apart for something Holy. The Apostle Paul dealt with that issue in several of his missionary journeys. This resulted in it being addressed in the New Testament. In Romans 12:2 we read this:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

So many want to avoid holiness. We don’t want to be awkward or different. So, we go along with whatever the culture dictates, no mind to if it is something that aligns with God or not. In fact, the popular concept in our world today is the idea of self-defining the terms.

In Romans 12, we will define “good,” “acceptable” and “perfect” by our own intentions instead of asking the question “How does God define those things?”

The point that the Church must see, is the command to not be conformed to the world.

This is the notion that we are not the same. But that we are set apart. Treasured.

Being set apart and no longer identifiable with the things of this world means a different way of life. Marriage, raising children, the workplace, etc. All the areas of our lives that we make indistinguishable from the rest of the world are now touched by the need to navigate it in a way that pleases God and not the world. Because God sets us apart.

Much like when I hide my goodies, they’re not for common use. They are something special. We the Church are something special.

Ryan Quigley is pastor of the Assembly of God Church in Albert Lea.