Originally published on TheReb.
Generation Z is made up of those who have been born after 1996, those who are twenty-six years old and younger. Generation Z has remarkable similarities to the millennial generation. Yet, as each generation arises, it strays further and further from the truth of God’s Word with each passing year.
In 2018, a study was conducted showing that 95% of teenagers use a smartphone, and of those teenagers, 97% use some sort of an online platform such as Tik Tok, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. With these growing statistics also comes a growing percentage of pornography addition, anxiety, and depression.
From research conducted in May of 2020, almost half of those in Generation Z agree with same-sex marriage, with only 15% saying that it is negative for our society. Fifty-nine percent prefer for gender options to include more than simply male and female. With each generation, society has become increasingly secularized as it seeks inclusion and individualism rather than seeking the Lord. Absolute truth is no longer widely accepted, and the acceptance of “your truth” is popular among Generation Z.
Teenagers are twice as likely to embrace atheism than the previous generations. We are gradually forgetting God.
As part of Generation Z myself, I do not want my generation to be defined by these statistics. I do not want to be part of the percentage of those who have drifted away from the faith. I do not want to be lukewarm and conform to our secular culture.
I want to be different.
Why Be Different?
The song, “Different,” by Micah Tyler, expresses the believer’s desire to be set apart.
“I wanna be different
I wanna be changed
Till all of me is gone
And all that remains
Is a fire so bright
The whole world can see
That there’s something different
So come and be different
Jesus says to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Christians are different so that the world might see that we are different for a reason. That difference in us should evoke curiosity in unbelievers so that they too long to have that difference, leading them to give all the glory to God. What an opportunity we have to share the gospel not only with words, but also with the way we live our day-to-day lives!
As we walk with the Lord, we reflect His light. We do not flaunt our own.
But why do we want to be different? Do we long to be different so we can take pride in our godliness? Are we seeking to be set apart so we can hold others responsible to our own standards?
It feels good to stand out. At times, it is even easy to stand out. It can be easy to clean myself up on the outside and go to church with a smile and a friendly welcome. It can be easy to care about others at work and be a listening ear but to act completely different at home.
Jesus warns us against this when He says, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:1). We should stand out by putting God’s standards on display, not our own. Do not let your words and actions point to yourself because of the pride you feel in being different. Any aspect of your life that has been transformed is due to the transformative power of the Holy Spirit.
We are different so that we can show the world around us that our God is different than the gods of this world. We are different because we strive after Christ and not the broken cisterns that the world offers us.
Do not have an attitude of superiority to other believers around you. As the moon reflects the sun’s light, let us also reflect the light of Christ, not seeking to emanate light on our own.
What Does Being Different Look Like?
We are promised that we will not be accepted in the world if we truly follow Christ. John 15:19 says, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
Romans 12:2 says, “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.” Rather than being conformed to the world that you were saved out of, God calls us to be completely transformed, inside and out, being set apart from the culture around us.
Many believers have become accustomed to labeling some acts of being “set apart” as “legalistic.” I do believe there are circumstances that legalism can be used in its proper sense, being defined as “strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code.” Rightfully used, legalism means following rules or laws to attain a level of merit. It does not refer to believers having and acting upon their personal convictions. While Christians have different convictions from one another, it is not legalistic to challenge each other to turn to Scripture and pray for guidance in considering their own convictions.
“Legalism” has become a word many have used to discourage believers who seek to act upon their convictions. Do not let this word be the attack you use to make yourself feel better about how much you love the world. While we do not stand apart for the praise of man, we do stand apart to serve Christ.
I have noticed a growing trend in the Christian circle of having the same anxieties as the world, watching the same entertainment as the world, writing the same social media posts as the world, and dating the same way as the world with the intention of having a better way of evangelizing to the world. But the Bible tells us to do the opposite. The Bible tells us that we are “the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14).
It’s easy to tell others that they can watch the things of this world if they find redeeming themes in them. It’s easy to tell others that they can speak as the world so they can fit in and have a better way to evangelize. It is easy to tell others that they can do things that the world does so they can be better friends with unbelievers. This is easy because it is not controversial. This is easy because it is the way of the world and the way of nonresistance.
But there is nothing easy about doing hard things. There is nothing easy about taking up our cross daily and following Christ (Luke 9:23).
Are you willing to give up your favorite tv show because there are sexual jokes and elements in it? Are you willing to dress modestly even if it means being less trendy? Are you willing to get rid of your phone because of your temptation to lust after images? Are you willing to delete social media because of the time waster it can be? Are you willing to get rid of everything and move overseas as a missionary if God calls you to do so? And if you’re called to stay, are you willing to sacrifice some of your spending money to give to a missionary for the cause of the gospel? Are you willing to give up some time with your friends to spend time with your family? Are you willing to set your phone down to delve into the Scriptures? Are you willing to memorize Scripture instead of memorizing movie quotes or song lyrics? Are you willing to stoop down and complete the job that everyone overlooks? Are you willing to be despised by the world, but to walk in an active relationship with Jesus Christ?
Convictions hurt because they involve putting our flesh to death and changing to become more like Christ. Even as I write this, I hurt because of the convictions the Holy Spirit has impressed on my heart. But let that hurt drive you to repentance. James 4:17 says, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” Evaluate your life for ways that you have conformed to the world. Do not be afraid to rip things from your life that cause you to love the things of this world more than God. Jesus tells us we must be willing to cut off our right hand if it is causing us to sin (Matthew 5:30).
God Will Help You
I can’t give you a formula or a set of rules for you to follow to tell you how to not look like the world. But I can tell you that by having an active relationship with Christ that involves reading God’s Word and praying in reliance on Him, the Holy Spirit will help you to know how to walk.
Spend more time on your relationship with God than on your relationship with the world. Shut off your phone. Turn off your tv. It’s more important to be in tune with what God says than with what the world says.
The world must know you are different. It must see that the things of this world can never satisfy, and Christ alone can.
Our aim in life must be “to please the one who enlisted [us].” We are not to become “entangled in civilian pursuits” (2 Timothy 2:4), acting as soldiers who have forgotten their mission and who have sought to blend in with the civilians.
I ask again. Are you willing?