The Real Difference

It's not cultural differences that matter. What matters is a person's love and obedience to God, and the presence of God in their life.

Scripture: John 14:22


Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Oh, I trust everything’s Alright at your house. I’m feeling fine, thank God. Haven’t got any complaints in the world. The Lord has been so good to me and people generally have been better to me than I deserve. And I’m grateful. I’m glad you’re there, on the listening end. Thank you for being there.

I’ve been dealing with some questions that the disciples asked as recorded in John’s Gospel, chapter 13 and 14. We looked at John 13:37, “Why can’t I follow Thee now?” And then we looked at John 14:5, “How can we know the way?” And now, we’re gonna look at another one. John 14 verse 22. It said, “Lord, how is it that Thou would manifest Thyself unto us and not unto the world?” And what that really means is, why are Christians different from the rest of the world? And the answer is very clear here, and it thrills my heart as I look at it. First of all, it has to do with love for Jesus. “If a man loved me.” Second it has to do with obedience to Jesus. “He will keep my words.” Third, it has to do with the relationship of the Heavenly Father in your life. “My Father will love him and we will come unto him and make our abode with him.

And the person who makes this all real is the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things.” Now, why are Christians different? Are they different because of what they wear, or the way they talk, or the way they act, or the rules they keep? Well, all of those areas maybe points of difference and variance, I’m sure. I had an agonizing letter from someone out in the island world, I would suppose 30 years ago now. And we had run a picture of some young people, some of whom had earrings on. And this letter, written in great sincerity and obvious concern, said, “Dear Brother Cook, don’t show any more pictures of people with earrings. When we get saved, we get saved from earrings.” Well, bless their hearts, I didn’t want to offend them. And I tried, during those days anyway when I was responsible, to keep from running anymore pictures of earrings.

Cultural differences show up, don’t they? But that doesn’t make a person a better Christian. I said to my interpreter, back in the 1950s, in Holland. He was a wonderful, wonderful Christian and a great soul winner. I knew that he was the real article, because you can’t travel with a man for three weeks, in meetings, and rooming together, and all of that without knowing whether or not he’s real. So I knew that he was a real Christian and loved God, and he was a great soul winner and a fine interpreter. But he smoked, incessantly. Maybe two, three packs a day. And so I said to him one day, I said, “You know, I know you love God, but I can’t understand how it is that you smoke.” And he got angry. The only time on the whole trip that he lost his temper, he got angry with me. He said, “Don’t talk to me about smoking.” “Why?” He said, “Your American women come over here and they wear high heels and lipstick and everybody knows that’s immoral.” [chuckle] Well, I’d never thought that it was.

See, cultural differences do exist all across the world. And people dress differently, and they act in a different manner. They have different standards of piety. Does that make a Christian? Oh, no. No. In Pennsylvania and other parts of our country, we have what we call the Plain People. Wonderful folks. I have held meetings for some of their churches, and I know that they are the real thing. They love God. And I’ve had meetings with them that were just the next door to Heaven. The Plain People. But they don’t believe in neckties. They don’t believe in tie pins. They don’t believe in a lot of different things. And in some cases, they don’t even believe in buttons, they have hooks and eyes. And does that mean they’re better Christians because of that? No. If they’re good Christians it’s because they know the Lord.

What I’m saying is, be charitable about the cultural differences that people have. Don’t criticize them, for goodness sake. Don’t talk down to them and patronize them while, at the same time, holding up your particular standard as being the one. God reserves the right to use people with whom I disagree. And I’ve found all over the world that folk who disagreed with me turned out to be wonderful Christians.

Now, what does make a Christian really different? Well, it’s first his love for Christ. “If a man love Me,” Jesus said. “He’ll keep My words.” I have to face the fact that one either talks his religion, or it’s real. And the point of reality is the point of commitment in love to Jesus, our blessed Lord. Oh, to open your heart to Him and to let the blessed indwelling Holy Spirit, do what He wants to do. Romans 5:5, says, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who has given unto us.” Paul said it in 2nd Corinthians 10, “The love of Christ constraineth us.” To let the blessed indwelling Holy spirit reveal your Savior to you, and create in you that warm heart of love for the Savior, there isn’t any substitute for it.

If you really wanna be different, it’s not in what you wear, not in the little rules that you may keep, they’re Alright, nothing wrong with them. But the real point of difference between you and the world is whether or not you love the Lord Jesus with all your heart. That’s what God said back in Deuteronomy. “Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God with all thy heart, soul, strength and mind.” Jesus said that was the greatest commandment. Do you want to think about that in your own life? Do you want to wait before your Savior for a little while and ask Him to fill your heart with love for Him? The secret of real devotions, day by day, is to stay in the presence of the Lord long enough until your heart is warm, and your eyes are wet, and your spirit is broken before God, and you know that you love Jesus, and you know that you need Him. “If a man love me.”

A second, it’s obedience, “He will keep,” that means obey. He said, “Why call ye me Lord, Lord and do not the things that I say?” Our Savior, quoted the ancient prophet who said, “These people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” There’s a passage in the Old Testament that says, concerning God’s people when they were backsliding, it said, “They feared the Lord but served their own gods.” That kind of dualism can only lead to heartache and failure. There is no two ways about it. Either you obey God or you don’t. Either you’re gonna do what He says or you don’t. There isn’t any in-between.

Some of you listening to me were in the military, either are or were. And I can guarantee you that when the sergeant barked out an order you didn’t turn to him with a smile and say “Sarge, that’s a great idea, but unfortunately I have other plans for tonight.” Did you? No, you didn’t. You said, “Yes, sir!” And you snapped to attention, and you went about doing whatever it was commanded. Especially after he had commanded and he said, “That’s an order.” Then you knew that you’re up against it, you had to do it. Obey. Our Lord Jesus is the commander. He’s the author and finisher of our faith. He’s the leader of the parade. He’s the one and He says, “Obey.” “If a man love me, he’ll obey my words.” Now, I have to ask you because you are the only one that can answer this before God, it’s nobody’s business but yours. Are you really obeying what you know to be the will of God? Don’t worry about the never-never-land of things you don’t quite understand about God’s will, don’t worry about that. Let’s talk about what you do know to be God’s will. Are you obeying him? Are you obeying him? Oh, that just brings me to my knees every time I think about it. There’re so many areas in my life that I need to submit to God every day. How about you? “If a man love me, he’ll obey me.” And I have to pray, “Oh, God, help me obey you today. Not my own desires and not the pressures of people and things around me, but the will of God and the word of God.”

Then the third thing that makes Christians different; the first thing is love for Christ, second is obedience to God’s will and God’s Word, and the third thing is the presence of God in your life. “My father will love him and come to him and make our abode with him.” The presence of God in your life. Do you know there are some people when they walk into a room you can feel God? Have you had that experience? And it’s not something that has to do with a show of piety. Some of the most pompous and stuffed-shirt people I know are very religious in their attitudes, but you don’t sense the presence of God. I was walking behind two bishops many years ago in a denominational convention. And there they were with their regalia; they looked very impressive and I walked behind them. Now, I never eavesdrop, you know that. [chuckle] But, boy, can I overhear? So I was busy overhearing. You know what they were talking about? They were talking about the fact that neither one of them could hope to be promoted in the denomination until such and such a person died. And they were wishing that he would die so that they could be promoted. Imagine.

No, I’ll tell you. It’s not what you’re wear, and not what you say, and not the denominational preference that you have. It has to do with the presence of God in your life. And you don’t need a uniform for that, Beloved. You need a wonderful person living within you. God says in 2nd Corinthians that if we’ll be true to him, and cleanse, and repent from our sins, and let him cleanse us, He says, “I’ll dwell with them. I’ll walk in them.” I’m turning the pages of my big Bible here, so I can actually get to the passage that I wanna quote. He says, “I’ll walk in them.” “I will dwell in them and walk in them.” 2 Corinthians 6:16. “And I will receive you. I’ll be a father unto you. You shall be My sons and daughters.” Come out from among them and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing.” And he said, “I will dwell in you and I’ll walk in you.” That is to say, God walking in your shoes when you walk into a room, mister, people will feel the presence of your heavenly Father. That’s what makes Christians different. They are full of God.

Now, how do you do that? Jesus said, “Just obey me.” “If a man love me, he’ll keep my words.” Love and obedience, love and obedience. My father will love him, we’ll come to him and make our abode with him and the Holy Spirit will teach you all things. Here’s God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit living comfortably in your heart. That’s what makes you different. And without that, no amount of religious trappings is going to make you stand apart from the rest of the world.

Oh, today, will you give some thought, beloved, will you give some thought to this matter of being really different? Really loving Jesus? Really obeying what He has to say to you? And really welcoming the presence of God? Now, that takes time. When you bow to pray, don’t just rush in with a laundry list to your Heavenly Father. Spend some time with Him, until the Holy Spirit who indwells the believer has a chance to put you in tune with Heaven’s wavelength, so that you’re really aware of God’s presence, then do your praying. Well, I trust this has been helpful to you. I know it has been to me as I went over these truths with you and for you.

Dear Father today, help us to love You and obey You, in Jesus name, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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