To be Set Apart has always seemed a removal from the culture where we live to a point where we cannot engage the culture, non-believers, and nominal believers well. The tendency I have seen with being set apart is too often defined as “holier than thou” or “out of touch with reality.”
As we embarked on the second half of what has been an absolutely crazy year called 2020, I began to earnestly consider the idea of being set apart. In the present condition where few people listen before attacking an opposing view, each side believes they are working from a place of righteous indignation. They believe anyone who does not agree with their viewpoint is automatically wrong and uninformed. If someone chooses to listen and consider both sides, they are attacked for not speaking soon enough or for using the wrong words. The “Gotcha culture” makes criticism and critique the name of the game at the primary level instead of community, love, and grace.
I wrestle with my own frustration with people wanting to pit people against one another. I find myself fighting the temptation to pit people against one another, knowing in the end I will not feel better about the situation.
Back to the call to be set apart:
1.We are set apart by God—God sets us apart. Time and again within the Old Testament, the act of being set apart is ordered by and executed (that is put into action) by God.
2.Set apart from the world to the Lord—where is the focus of being set apart? The world where we once placed our trust and allegiance? God? The Israelite people struggled with the tendency to focus on the past instead of the reality of being set apart to the Lord for the future.
3.Set apart for a certain purpose—the Israelite people were set apart as God’s chosen people. The Levites were set apart as the Priests of God’s chosen people. The musicians were set apart from the Priests to lead the music. We are set apart as followers of Jesus to represent the Kingdom of God (ambassadors). Of those who are set apart some are evangelists, apostles, encouragers, pastors, musicians, etc.
Being set apart is a lifestyle instead of a list of tenets and rules to follow. The way I live should be set apart in that I am not following the crowd or the voices of humanity; rather, I am discerning the still small voice of God giving me direction.
So, when I choose to follow the leadership of the Lord to awake early in the morning for devotion, prayer, and workout, I am set apart from those who are not settng apart time for spiritual and physical health.
When I choose to invest in reading, studying, and communicating with people, I am set apart as I set apart time for relational and mental health. I am growing and living life more abundantly and experientially.
When I choose to invest time with my wife and children, playing, talking, working, and relaxing, I am set apart as I am settng apart time for emotional health. Jim Valvano, during his speech at the 1993 Espy Awards, said each day a person should make sure they laugh, think, and cry. So many people spend life running from emotions and true intimacy for fear of being found out, criticized, or judged.
How are you experiencing the life of being set apart? In the midst of division within our communities and the Church, how are we being called to be set apart to take the posture of listening and conversation? Where is God calling you to be set apart to grow in your relationship with God and with other people?