Christians are called to be a holy people
Published 8:16 am Friday, July 8, 2022
From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham
Dear Rev. Graham: Why have Christians always been called to a higher standard of behavior? I’m confused by two conflicting statements in the Bible: “When in Rome do as the Romans,” and “Don’t be conformed to this world.” — C.S.
Dear C.S.: When Rome was at the height of her glory and power, there appeared a disturbing sect called Christians. Because of a fire that burned within them, realizing their sins had been forgiven by Jesus Christ, they dared to be different so that their lives would reflect that they were sinners forgiven by Jesus Christ who died for them and rose again to give new life.
In an era when immortality prevailed, Christians refused to be defiled by the sensual practices of a disintegrating civilization. In a period when human life was cheap, they put a high value upon human beings, their souls, and their destinies. These Christians refused to be absorbed into the godless society of Rome and did not “while in Rome,” do as the Romans do (which is not in Scripture). The Roman high tribunal initiated a drive to stamp out Christianity as a disturber of pagan unity.
The Romans had a false notion that a person’s conscience could be controlled by law, so they made it illegal to be different. All had to bow to Caesar. All had to conform to pagan custom and behave like true Romans. But the early Christians learned from Scripture that they were called to live according to God’s standard. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). This is the high calling of God through the enabling of the Spirit of God. Christians are called to be a holy people — separated from the moral evils of the world.
(This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.)