Thoughts on Friends and Non-Conformity

This past weekend my family and I journeyed down to Shenandoah Valley Academy in New Market, VA to attend graduation. It was a lot of fun to see friends that I haven't seen for a while and just reconnect.

I don't know why, but I always feel slightly bewildered by the realization that things aren't the same as when I saw them last. I guess one facet of this feeling is the security mechanism that we put up to filter out small changes that happen around us; a built-in continuity generator that keeps us safe, until a significant aberration intrudes into our consciousness, forcing us to recalibrate our concept of "normal." Another component is the fact that I'm looking at things through a different lens than I was last time. Perhaps the view hasn't changed as much as the viewer. . .

Anyway, I came away with two impressions that I wanted to jot down. First, godly friends are truly priceless! I'm amazingly blessed to merely know so many remarkable people, let alone to be able to consider them friends! In high school there were a few people who were really special and God used them to impact my life in a huge way. But then going to college, specifically Southern, has opened up a whole new treasure chest. I can't wait until Heaven!

Second, I was struck by the ubiquitous blending of the common and sacred. I guess this is more a commentary on modern culture than anything else. Everywhere I looked, I saw people trying to grasp the World in one hand and Heaven in the other. The clothes worn, the music played, some of the speeches; a common sentiment seemed to be "How can I have a secular lifestyle and still enjoy the benefits of spirituality?"

Perhaps the reason this stood out to me was because of what I've been reading in my devotions, and I've been noticing a recurring concept of "set-apartness." Many times God will say something like "I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from the nations." In fact, I started researching this theme and it's all through the whole Bible. In case you're interested in checking this out, here are a few references: Ex. 19:6, 23:2, Lev. 20:23-24, 26, Num. 23:9, Deut. 4:6-7, 7:6, 14:2, 21, 18:9, 26:19, 28:9-10, Ezra 6:21, 9:1, 10:11, Neh. 10:28, Ps. 4:3, Jer. 1:5, Eze. 11:12, John 17:14-16, Titus 2:14, 1 Peter 2:9,... You get the idea. Over and over again in the Bible resounds the cry, "Be different!" "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind!"

“The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."
~Brennan Manning

Enough wavering! Enough 'lukewarmness' It's time we as Seventh-day Adventist Christian youth start really following the Lamb wherever He goes, start being the light of the world, start being the salt of the earth! That's what being a follower of Jesus is all about; being in, yet not of. . .

Anyway, those are some of the things that have been rattling around in my head. What do you think?



  1. Well, you already know my thoughts on this matter since we discussed it at 1 am Sunday morning but because you desire a comment from your dear sister, I shall attempt to regurgitate my thoughts.

    I would have to say that I also came to those two conclusions after this last weekend. One, I missed the depth of conversation and the warmth of Christian fellowship that is experienced when one is in harmony with God and fellow believers. Two, it was sad to see dear friends of mine totally caught up in the material things of this world, failing to see the cost of what is truly at stake.

    "Perhaps the view hasn't changed as much as the viewer. . ." I think this is a very true statement, at least for me. And it gives me hope for my friends from SVA. If I have changed so much in one year, then they certainly have the potential to change as well.

  2. Excellent points! I wish I could be so succinct:)

  3. haha, you just were, in your blog!

  4. I can definitely relate to both yours and Christy's sentiments expressed here. Often when I talk to my friends from high school it feels like there's some sort of strange barrier between us. We can reminisce about old times, and talk about the superficial "what's new" kind of stuff, but that seems to be the extent of our friendships currently. It just makes it painfully obvious that our choices and lifestyles have become very different.

    But Christy, I really liked what you said about how it gives you hope that if you could change so much in one year, so could they. I don't think that had ever occurred to me and it was encouraging.

    You know, it really is a wonderful blessing to be able to live at Southern in an environment where there are so many individuals who choose to be set apart for God. I've thought about it before, and whenever I do think about it, I find myself praying that God will help me remain set apart and help me choose to continue to live my life by the will of God once I leave that environment. If I don't do that then I'm no better off, and perhaps even worse off, than those who have not chosen to be set apart for God in the first place. 2 Peter 2:20,21 talks a bit about this idea.

  5. AMEN!! I most wholeheartedly agree!

    I really appreciate all you guys...you make college a much different place by your presence than it would be otherwise. We are all really blessed by each others friendship.

  6. Joel, I wholeheartedly agree. I have been so blessed by my friends at Southern and their desire to serve God and come apart. It seems in the Bible that God did paint such a picture in the lives of the Israelites. He gave them a distinct identity. Culture fascinates me, and I think as we step back and analyze ourselves and daily habits that we would find that the temples to Diana, silvershops, and the Demetrius' are more abundant than we thought before.

    Our culture is inundated with soft grassy roads leading ever so slightly away from our narrow and treacherous but pleasant path to heaven. I have found the greatest challenge in this realization is figuring out how to show, not just tell, people what it means to follow Jesus.

  7. I agree as well. You know, whenever I look and talk to my dear friend, Valerie, I tend to believe that she is a much better Christian than I am. But yet, she doesn't even have the full truth! And of course, you guys are amazing in all that you're doing for the Lord. This has really convicted me to spend more time with God daily, no matter what.

    Yes, I do believe the view has changed as well as the viewer. We Adventist viewers are becoming more aware of the time that is facing us as well as our level of connection with God and our deeper need for Him. But the view is becoming worse and worse. There are some things that would not be tolerated, even by the world, about 100 years ago. But now we've entered a time where there seems to be no wrong--or at least, practically no wrong. For example, killing a 2-year-old child is considered murder whereas killing an unborn child is not!

    But now I'm just entering in on topics which have already been covered hundreds of times.

    Anyway, good point Joel!

  8. hmmm... I'm not sure how I hadn't read this post until now... but I completely concur :)
    Our mental and spiritual views constantly change with our natural growth, and this alters our perceptions of life...

    and the precious moments along the way are to be treasured forever, for they are fleeting, yet eternity affecting gifts that piece together our character.

    I praise God for you Joel and Christy, and all the rest of you guys for creating and sharing so many beautiful moments! You have greatly enriched my life - and I can't wait to see you all again in a few weeks :) !!!


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