What’s the difference?

When I was younger, I thought a lot about the story of the Passover. After all, I was the firstborn son in my family, so I thought, If I had lived back then, my life could have been in jeopardy. But I was also a little horrified by the story itself. All those innocent Egyptian boys! How could God do that?

At the time, I wondered whether any Egyptians put the blood of a lamb on their doorposts and thus escaped the terrible plague. I suppose my thinking was not too far fetched; in Exodus 9:20-21 it shows that some Egyptians believed that God would make good on His threat to send devastating hail and prepared accordingly. Still, it was a speculation based on the silence of the text.

I have come to realize that the answer to my question is in the silence. The Bible only talks about the Israelites putting the blood of the lamb on their doorposts, which means only the Israelites performed this ritual. The reason only the Israelites did this is because the ritual was explained only to the Israelites. God expressly told only the Israelites how to avoid the tragedy that would soon befall the Egyptians.

Why? Because God wanted to save the Israelites. They were already His; He just gave them a visible sign of that spiritual reality. They in turn believed that He was going to do what He promised and responded in obedience.

God distinguished Israel from Egypt back then through the Passover, and God distinguishes Christians from everyone else now through Jesus Christ.

The Bible declares that Christians are distinct from unbelievers and delineates the ways in which Christians should be distinct from unbelievers. The imperatives of Christianity directly flow from the indicatives of Christianity.

We Christians are different; therefore, we ought to be different. Or, alternately: our Christian activity is determined by our Christian identity. (Either sentence would be an acceptable Tweet.)

There are a myriad of interpretations and a million more applications that have been drawn from Jesus’ parable about the sower and the seed falling on different soils. Here is what I understand as the main takeaway—only the seed that fell on good soil produces fruit. That is, only Christians can be Christ-like. This is not to deny that a Christian will not sin, but to affirm that a Christian is no longer a slave to sin (cf. Romans 6:1-14).

We who are truly Christians will show ourselves as such. We are already His; He has graciously given us ways to demonstrate that spiritual reality. We in turn trust that He will do what He has promised and respond in obedience.

And why did God decide to save us who trust in Jesus? “[It was] not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (II Timothy 1:9). God saved us so that we would acknowledge the Lamb that was slain on our behalf and worship Him as the worthy King.

Christ Jesus makes all the difference in the world—and in us.

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