1 Peter 1.
I’ve previously mentioned the book Same Kind of
Different As Me,
the story of two men whose lives were radically changed by the Good News of Jesus Christ – a change for which neither of them had been searching. I bring it to your attention again for two reasons. One, this is the first book of publisher Thomas Nelson to remain on the New York Times
best-seller list for so many consecutive weeks – 80 weeks and continuing. But second, because it is so appropriate to the message of 1 Peter 1.
The two men – the authors – were as different as could be. Ron Hall, a white yuppie art dealer, and Denver Moore, a black man born into virtual modernday slavery and the toughest con at Angola Prison.
On the very first night Ron and his wife were serving dinner at the Union Gospel Mission in Fort Worth, Texas, Denver went berserk and assaulted 20 people, threatening to kill anyone who tried to stop him. It was evident that they were unlikely ever to be even remote friends, let alone share the same house, the same min- istry to outcasts, and co-author two inspiring books. A DREAM REALIZED
It was Deborah, Ron’s wife, who miraculously brought them together. A dream inspired her to serve as a volunteer worker in the Union Gospel Mission. Ron was undone when she persuaded him to join her, but was even more stunned when she told him that Denver was the man she saw in her dream. She implored Ron to become his friend and, impossible as it seemed, the three of them forged a friendship that transformed their lives and the mission.
Traveling the country and inspiring thousands with that story, they have raised millions of dollars to minister to the homeless. Their second book, What
Difference Do It Make?,
tells stories of hope and healing by those who have also been changed by their ministry.
So, what do these stories have to do with 1 Peter 1:13-25, you, and me?
I think this book has had such an impact because it lifts up before us a quality of life that is inspiring on the one hand, and daunting on the other. Upon meeting Ron Hall last year, Valere and I were surprised at his humble enthusiasm. But, we were tempted to put him in that “something different” category that is reserved for exemplary “saints.” We could not see ourselves doing what they have done. CALLED TO BE HOLY
Ron and Denver are different – but is it not a difference to which all Christians are called? Peter’s epistle commands us: “As obedient children, do not be conformed
to the passions of your former ignorance, but as
he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your
(1:14,15). To “not be conformed” means we are not to get stuck in the kinds of lives that are like those of everyone else. And to “be holy” means to be “separate” or “apart” from the popular norm of living.
How, then, can we be holy if we work so hard to be just like everyone else, just like those who do not pretend to follow Jesus Christ? Is not Christianity slowly going down the drain in much of the Western world because, without wearing uniforms, Christians look, act, and sound just like everyone else? Yes, we are human beings, but we are to embody a different vision of what it means to be human.
To be sure, we have certain beliefs that are not entertained by others, but these beliefs tend to make us contentious, not holy. If we are known for anything, it is likely to be our bitter disagreements, not a style of living that sets us apart from the crowd – living lives that fail to make visible in us the presence of Jesus Christ.