When I was a teenager I attended a conference where the speaker said, “don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mold.” I liked the saying so much I bought a poster and placed in on my bedroom wall. It was my reminder everyday as I went into the world that I was to be different, to not give into temptation. But I didn’t quite define different and it felt like it was based on willpower and not on an internal place of faith and grounding. I thought being different meant only externals such as not drinking, dancing, gambling, or to quote verse 15, “eating food given to idols or engaging in sexual immorality.” Jesus is very clear one should abstain from certain rituals and behaviors that the church people of Pergamum were being pressured or squeezed into. But his command was not to use willpower to stop eating that food or fleeing that sexual encounter, it was stated in verse 16, “So repent!”
That is a heart change not a dietary or moral change that masks as real change. So when one is asked the question what does different look like when one is being squeezed into the worldly mold, I say it is a choice of the heart that walks toward Christ. To change the insides (the heart) first and then the outsides (the behavior) secondarily; this will ensure permanent change that is different, sustainable and noticeable by the entire world.