I used to take pride in being a chameleon. I could walk into rooms without anyone noticing I was there, I could blend in with locals when I traveled out of the country. I kept my head down and tried not to stand out; I felt really safe.
As Alma preached to the people in Zarahemla while setting the Church in order, he admonished the members of the Church, “be ye separate.” In both the Old and New Testaments, the people of God are described as a “peculiar people” (cf. Deuteronomy 14:2 and 26:18, OT; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9, NT). Modern prophets have continued citing this phrase to describe members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I think about this sometimes and how God intends for His people to stand out so that others see something different about us and wonder what they might be missing in their own lives.
Backtrack to my mission when one of my companions jaywalked everywhere we went. Late for the tram? Jaywalk to catch it just in time. Need to go to an appointment across this busy road but the nearest crosswalk is minutes away? Jaywalk. When I asked her about this habit, she said, “everyone here does it.” One thing I had learned as a missionary, we were not supposed to do and be like everyone else. We needed to stand out instead and use the crosswalks if for no other reason than nobody else did.
Alma’s admonition to “be ye separate” does not mean to hole away in bunkers until the Second Coming (think of my “chameleon” attitude), completely removing ourselves from society. We are supposed to separate ourselves from sin. We are meant to participate in our communities. But we should be noticeably different in how we present and carry ourselves, how we interact with others (in Christ-like ways), and in our level of honesty and integrity. Standing out can be so uncomfortable but it is becoming increasingly important to do so.