Jim was thirty-three, but the marvel in his eyes made him look like a toddler exploring new worlds. One searching look at his own pale white skin and then another look at the man lying on the bed. It was like looking in a mirror—but only a mirror that told the future.
The same hooked nose that stared at him in the mirror in the morning was the same one on the face of the man on the bed. He chuckled a little as he looked down and realized that at thirty-three he was already dressing like his grandfather—scraggily beard, flannel shirt, jeans that were on day three, and tennis shoes that had never seen a court.
“I’m just like him”, Jim thought to himself.
Only he wasn’t.
Jim had breath in his lungs. His grandfather did not. Only moments before Jim’s old man in the mirror had breathed his last.
Though the two men are basically the same there is now a world of difference between them. A great chasm—if you will. No amount of comparing and contrasting will change that one unchangeable fact—one man is alive and the other is not.
The Difference in “Us”
I’ve noticed in recent days a sort of flattening that occurs when believers speak of unbelievers. “We are just like them”, says one pastor as he encourages his congregation to share the gospel. And he’s right. But he’s right in the same way that Jim was correct comparing his DNA with that of his grandfather.
But he’s also wrong.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
There is actually a world of difference between a believer in Jesus and an unbeliever. And if that distinction is squashed we lose a great deal. Take for instance the promises of Romans 8:31-39. “If God is for us who can be against us…” That “us” is huge. It’s the difference between Jim and his lifeless grandfather.
If you are a believer you have new life. Yes, you sin just like unbelievers. Yes, you have the same burdens, the same dependency on grace for everything (whether you acknowledge it or not), and the same need for daily repentance. BUT your relationship to all of these things is vastly different than the relationship that an unbeliever has to them.
Flattening the distinction between believers and unbelievers might appear like a loving thing to do—it might seem like building a bridge for evangelism. But at the end of the day such a thing actually blows up the only bridge that can cross the great chasm between the spiritually dead and alive; namely, the work of Jesus Christ. If we aren’t fundamentally different than unbelievers then what exactly is this new life that Jesus Christ purchased for us?
No you are different. Let this truth drive us to our knees in awe and humility.