By Philip S. North
Oddly enough, these two words do no mean the same exact thing. Actually, they go from one extreme to the other. When we talk about someone that is “different,” we think of the individual who is not one to merely “follow the crowd.” We look upon that person as an individualist;. not like other people; offset from the majority; opposite of same; and to a certain degree, independent. A person who is different certainly and most always attracts attention. In some cases, especially with reference to being a true, faithful, and devout Christian, being different is not bad.
An individual that is “indifferent” is usually categorized as being contrary; stubborn; disobedient; delinquent; not reacting to; unconcerned. This is often said of an outlaw, troublemaker, or a contrary son or daughter (a problem child). This person, though he may be classified as different in his manner of living, his life is at the same time indifferent with regard to law and order and respect to authority. Most people may obey the law, while he chooses not to. This is an example of being indifferent. Thus, here is our conclusion. A person that is different will stay away from those things of the world that are sinful and from people who choose to follow such. While one that is indifferent will be wayward to those who have selected to follow as their pattern of life that which is right and good in the eyes of the Almighty God. Now let us examine our lives and see just where we fit in. Are we of a different nature or of an indifferent nature? We are doubtless going to be one or the other.
Are We Different?
When we decide to put off the old man of sin and put on the new (Rom. 6:6; Eph. 4:22-23; Col. 3:9,10), we should also resolve ourselves to be different — that is to say, no longer a partaker of the lusts of the world and its sensuous pleasures (Rom. 12:2). Paul teaches us that we must live in the world, but not be of the world (Titus 2:12). King Solomon teaches us all throughout the book of Ecclesiastes that man is going to have to live under the sun. However, he went on to conclude that the whole duty of man is to “fear God and keep his commandments” (Eccl. 12:13). Christians are a group of people that are looked upon by the world as being strange; unusual; weird, if you please; odd. Paul calls us “a peculiar people” (Titus 2:14). That is why it should not constantly bother us, if even at all, when you hear some worldly individual call you “square,” “sissy,” “redneck,” “sweety,” “Mr. Nice Guy,” “party pooper,” “stick-in-the-mud,” or whatever!! As long as somebody thinks one or more of the above about us, we must be alright, provided we are not hypocrites concerning the way we act around people. WOE INDEED TO THE MAN THAT EVERYBODY SPEAKS GOOD OF! Just how different should we as Christians be?
Do we refuse that alcoholic drink that is offered? Do we refuse to take and pedal dope? What about the use of profanity of ANY kind? Do we stay away from evil companions? Do we engage in premarital sex? What about gambling, cheating people, lying, stealing, obeying the law of our land, etc.? Or better still, what about taking the Bible in its entirety and therefore refusing to add to or take away from that inspired Word? Do we follow the Bible and obey exactly what it dictates and all of what it dictates? These are but a few of the things that the world beseeches us to do in our everyday life-or else beseeches us not to do. Jesus states that “ye are the salt of the earth” (Mt. 5:13). This means that we are to make use of our name “Christian” and be an especially good example for others, that they may see Jesus in our lives. God never intended for anyone to be “good for nothing” and hence do no more in this world than “take up space.” In Matthew 5:16 Jesus teaches us, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Gentle reader, I ask you this question in the name of your precious soul’s eternal destiny: Are you different? Are you “set apart” from the world?
Are We Indifferent?
Now friend, with reference to the Word of God, this is just what you should not want to be. Just look at the number of moon craters we could fill with people that are indifferent! First of all, they do the exact opposite that the civil law requires and also which God commands. (NOTE: we must obey civil law only as long as it does not conflict with the law of God). These people are just as contrary and as wayward as they know how to be! Next, some people with regard to following the scriptures, will look point blank, bulls eye, at the Bible and argue, pervert, and twist the scriptures around, until after awhile, they have you believing (if you are not on your p’s and q’s) that the sky is naturally pink, black is white, and manual labor is really the name of a Mexican worker. These people will argue with a billboard standing right in their very presence. There are many verses in the Bible that are not at all hard to understand, therefore they mean what they say. I speak of self-explanatory verses. Jesus said in John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth and truth shall make you free.” In Jn. 8:24 Jesus also told us, “Except ye believe that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.” The Hebrew writer PLAINLY tells us in Hebrews 10:25 not to forsake “the assembling of ourselves together . . . .” Again, Romans 12:2 tells us not to be “conformed to this world . . .” 2 Peter 1:5 tells us to add to our faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, and love. 2 Timothy 2:15 and James 1:21 tell us to study our Bibles. The list is almost endless about “direct commandments.” The young man Stephen called the Jews in Acts 7:51, “stiffnecked and dncircumcised.” This certainly is an example of being indifferent. Those Jews had their heads bent on rejecting Jesus, and therefore refused to mend their ways to God’s will.
Many members of the church are indifferent in their attitude of faith-church attendance. You cannot, even with a wire brush and an act of Congress, get them to attend more than just one service a week. “Sunday morning onlys” is what I speak of. They are good bench warmqis, but they can never be good heart warmers. These persistent “Sunday morning onlys” seldom or never ask anybody to attend the services with them, if there is a man in the family, he will not in any way
attend the business meetings, you can never persuade them to read the scripture or word a prayer (even if they may possess the talent to do so), and the other members seldom or never see Christ in their lives. These indifferent people persist on living the kind of life that they wish to live, and rain on anyone that shows concern for their souls.
How is with you, friend? When it comes to obeying the gospel and being faithful to God until death, are you different or indifferent? As long as you live and breathe God’s air upon this big earth, remember that there is one little, simple word in your life that you show every day you exist. This one little word will work either way or the other for you on the day of judgment. It is a word that will send your soul to either Heaven or Hell-attitude!! Let us live every day for Jesus only-as if it were our last. One day it will be. I pray that we always strive for the truth and once we learn what God commands of us, we obey Him without question or hesitancy. Are you different or indifferent?
Truth Magazine XXI: 21, pp. 333-334
May 26, 1977