15And he said to Him, “If Your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16For how shall it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not in Your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and Your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” 17And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in My sight, and I know you by name” —Exodus 33:15-17
What makes a person distinct? What makes a group distinct? The question was on Moses’ mind as he talked to God. The only thing that makes a person truly distinct is not the color of their skin, not where they work or how many degrees come after their name. Here it is: “Is it not in Your going with us, so that we are distinct?” (v.16)
What makes a family distinct? It doesn't matter what car you drive. It doesn't matter whether the front of your house has brick on it, okay? The thing that makes your family distinct is if God is in that house. What makes a church distinct? Only one thing—not how high the steeple is or whether they play organ music. The only thing that makes a church distinct is, is God in that house? Are people getting saved? Is God being worshipped? Is His Son being elevated? That's what makes a church different.
People often ask me, "James, when is it time to leave a church?" I tell them, "How about when God doesn't go there anymore?" If God doesn't go to your church anymore, you're free to leave, all right?
“Is it not in Your going with us, so that we are distinct?”—isn't that what you want to be said about your family? I mean, what a great thing to have written on your tombstone some day, "Others knew that God was with him." It doesn't matter what you went through. Nobody's going to remember the depth of your valleys or the height of your mountains. We’ve all got ups and downs. But at the end of the day, the confidence that God is with us, that's what makes us distinct. This is the first true human distinctive.
The thing that makes a person distinct, biblically, is the degree to which you embrace the reality that the God who made you is with you. That's what makes people distinct. Everything else we use to try to create distinctiveness apart from God is empty and unfulfilling sameness.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You made us in so many ways identical, yet with the potential to be unique in You. Forgive me for settling for false distinctions and for given too much value to differences that are only superficial. Teach me to have more of Moses’ attitude of not settling for anything less than You. What makes us distinct is never us—it’s always You! We praise You in Jesus’ name, Amen.