When The Desire To Be Different Is Wrong

Yesterday in his lesson “What Happens When We Eat the Supper?” at the Florida College Lectures, David Deason related his experience in surveying some of his friends about their practices regarding Communion.

Some said their church takes the Lord’s supper monthly. Some quarterly. Others said they only attend to take communion once or twice a year.

One friend told David that his church offers communion on the first Wednesday night of each month.

Puzzled at this unusual response, David asked, “Why?”

“Because we want to be different,” his friend responded.

The Bible teaches that Christians are to be different. Different from the world (Rom. 12:1-2. Paul admonished, “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.”

We are to be different from our former life, driven and dictated by the desires of the flesh (Eph 2:1-3). We are commanded to “put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” (Eph 4:22).

We are to be different in our attitudes and our aspirations. Christians are called to “seek those things which are above.” To set our minds “on those things above and not earthly things” (Col. 3:1-2).

Disciples of Christ should be different. Except when being different disobeys the revealed Word of God. Then being different is wrong.

The Bible provides specifics instructions regarding the Lord’s Supper. Jesus instituted its elements–-unleaven bread and fruit of the vine (Matt 26:26-28) The apostolic example shows us that it was observed on “the first day of the week” (Ax 20:7). The supper is to be observed in the assembly with the proper spiritual focus on Jesus (1 Cor. 11:17-34.

In their desire to be different too many have strayed from simple, divine commands. Not just in observing Communion, but in many areas of the work, worship, and organization of the church.

The apostle Paul condemned those who had left “the grace of Christ and turned to a “different gospel” (Gal 1:6). In his ministry, Paul charged “certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (1 Tim. 1:3-4)

The desire to be different can be dangerous. It can produce many unhealthy and ungodly results. This is emphatically stated by Paul to the young evangelist Timothy. “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people” (2 Tim. 6:3-5).

The desire to be different has driven some, even among our fellowship, from sound doctrine and the “faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). In their quest to overthrow traditions, they have gone too far and lost sight that some traditions are good. The Apostle exhorted, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle” (2 Thess 2:15).

Being different for the sake of being different should not be our driving force. Religiously we should seek a spiritual relationship with the Lord that leads us to respect His Word, obey His commandments, and follow the apostolic traditions revealed in Scripture.

Those who smugly say, “we want to be different”  need to examine themselves to see whether they are in the faith (2 Cor 13:5).  Subjective differences that conflict with objective Truth ought to be discontinued.

As has been observed many times this week, “Those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them.”

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

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