"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." - Hebrews 13:8
If Jesus were here in the flesh today, He wouldn't be any different from when He walked on earth in Jerusalem about 2000 years ago. He would still be prayerful, compassionate, kind, and sinless. Because He never changes, regardless of culture, time, or place. He is that steadfast.
Sadly, we can't always say the same about ourselves as His followers. We Christians can go to church confessing submission to a holy God, but still think, act, talk, and look like the world. Why is that?
When culture replaces Christ-likeness
Friends, the Bible tells us that if we are in Christ, we are not of the world. We live here, eat here, grow here, but we don't belong here. We're merely sojourners looking forward to coming home to God, but while we're here we do His will.
The problem with that, however, is that many of us become so comfortable here. We allow culture to swallow us, changing the way we think and see things. Sooner or later, those who have stopped denying themselves to follow Christ will end up denying Christ to follow themselves. Sad, but it's true. James 4:4 tells us,
"Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."
Simply put, if we adopt the customs, beliefs, and cultures of this world, we will never adopt the ways of God. We will remain in the flesh, unable to walk in the Spirit of God. Galatians 5:17 tells us that "the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh."
If we want more of God, then we've got to put our flesh off. We've got to breakthrough from worldliness to Godliness.
Less of me, more of Him
Christ Jesus gave us the simplest of keys to be more like Him: to simply follow Him. Following Him requires a few things, all of which allow us to just follow Him.
"Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." (Matthew 16:24-25)
Here we see a few important things:
1) We deny ourselves
No matter what we think or feel, we've got to learn to stop ourselves and see if what we are planning to do is what God wants us to do.
We've got to learn to not follow what other people and what popular culture dictate to us. Christ is our Lord, not our reputation or our feelings. It's Christ who matters.
2) We take up our cross
We remind ourselves that our flesh has no room in Christ. Our sins and sinful old self are already nailed to the cross of Christ, and so we should not pursue that which He saved us from: sin.
In Christ, we've got to realize that we're already dead to the world's opinion and fads. What matters is what Christ says about us.
3) We follow Him
Then we choose to follow Him. To make it clearer, we choose to do what He wants instead of what our flesh wants. He is Lord, and so we merely do as He says.
We can't have two masters. We can't have Christ as Lord of our brain's left hemisphere while the world is master of the right. We've got to choose: Jesus or culture.
I hope we choose Jesus.
As I close, I leave to you the meaning of the word "holy." According to Webster, it means "consecrated or set apart to a sacred use, or to the service or worship of God." God wants us to be like that: holy unto Him. We were meant to live for Him alone.
"For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy." (Leviticus 11:44-45)