Well, many of you have just completed your second day of school, and the pressure is really starting to kick in. Perhaps you've grown closer to God this summer, especially at camp, the mission trip, etc. However, as soon as you set foot back into that school building, all of the old temptations have started to rush back over you. You suddenly feel like everyone is watching you and wonder if your outfit looks OK, if the person you're sitting next to makes you look cool, if your hair is in place, and if your purse is a cool enough brand. You suddenly feel the overwhelming desire to blend in, to be accepted, to be considered cool.
If you're struggling with any of this (and you most likely are, if you're honest), I want to remind you of a powerful verse. 1 Peter 2:11 says, "Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against your soul." Does it strike you as odd that Peter calls Christians aliens and strangers? What this means, is that Christians are supposed to look so different than everyone else, that they are going to look like they're from another planet!
I know...as a teenager, looking like an alien is not something you want to strive for. In fact, that's the last thing you want to be seen as! However, we've got to remind ourselves that we are here on this earth to please God, and His standards are very different than the world's. Instead of conforming to the ways of everyone around you, God wants you to shine like a light in a dark place (Rom 12:2, Matt 5:16). You can't shine if you look as dark as everyone else.
If you really live out your faith in the radical way God tells us to in the Scriptures, you will look like an alien. When you're at school, I hope that you feel this way...this means you're doing something right! If you're really living in obedience to God, the jokes that everyone else laughs at won't be funny to you, the movies everyone is talking about will be ones you'd never see, the language people are using will be foreign to you, and the things people are doing on the weekends will be completely different than what you're doing. This is who God has called you to be...an alien in this dark world. Your citizenship is in heaven, and you're just visiting this earth as an ambassador for Christ...don't forget that.
This verse challenges believers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which Peter says are waging war against Christians. Does this sound extreme to you? It's not! There is a spiritual battle going on around you, and Satan is trying as hard as he can to pull you away from God (Eph 6:10-12). At school you'll be enticed by the lust for popularity, for material things, for beauty, for a boyfriend, and for acceptance by your peers at any cost. Ask God to open your eyes to the battle that is going on and give you the strength to resist temptation.
When I was in high school, a guy my older sister dated was in this Christian band that wrote their own music. One of their songs went like this... "Like a horse out of water, like a fish that breathes the air, I feel some times, times, times...I'm not a man, I'm alien." Man, could I relate to that! That song really ministered to me, because I often felt just like an alien in high school. I was so different than everyone around me, and nobody seemed to get why I lived the way I did.
I want to encourage you from the beginning of the new school year, to see yourselves as aliens and strangers in this world. Spend time in the Word and in prayer, every day...this will keep you from temptation (Psalm 119:11), cling to the Christian friendships you have formed in the youth group, and resist the temptation to simply blend in~