When I was a sophomore in college, we had a great professor for one of our Bible classes. These classes were mandatory for all students who attended Southern Nazarene and truthfully, they were good classes and I enjoyed them. Dr. Hahn on occasion spoke in chapel even, and while we had a lot of awesome Bible professors, I am writing about him because of this one particular chapel service. He spoke on 1 Peter 2: 11- 25 in which Peter writes about being aliens and strangers in the world. He called us "residential aliens". I remember this particular chapel because it really stuck with me, it reminded me that just because we are in the world, we are not to be of the world. At that time it was very important to remember that in my life. There are many around me making choices that I knew were not in God's divine plan for us, things the world advocated, but not Christ.
We see a perfect example of how Godly men are the ones who choose instead of following others to stand out amongst the crowd in Daniel. The story of Daniel and the lion's den as well as the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are perfect examples of men who choose to obey God instead of what the world around them said. Even if it meant death for them.
I subscribe to Voice of the Martyrs and they offer the book Jesus Freak by D. C. Talk when you join them. In this book are examples of people from past and present who are standing firm on God's promise to see them through the persecution or who have given their lives for Christ. As I read these stories, and then take a look around at what the world peddles I see a stark contrast.
God gives us pretty clear instructions in how he desires we live - sexually pure, do not drink to drunkenness, treat your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit - to name a few. And yet living in today's world, we see a sharp difference in how people without Christ live their lives. Hollywood is a huge advocate for choosing to live your life your way. Frank Sinatra is famous for a song, "I Did It My Way." All around us we are told we "deserve" to be happy, we "deserve" this or that. And I can't help but ask myself, if God really gave me what I deserve, how much would that stink? The truth is none of us deserve God's love, grace, and mercy - it is a gift and there is nothing we can do to earn it. It is given to us knowing that we are unrighteous and unworthy and yet He never gives up on us? Wow, that's mind boggling if you look at it from the worlds viewpoint.
Satan and the world would have us believe that because something feels good or everyone else is doing it that makes it okay. . . you want to have sex before your married? Everyone else is choosing to do that so it must be okay. You want to be rude and disrespectful to the adults in your life, well all my friends are rude and disrespectful so it must be okay. And yet we read time and time again in God's word how he asks us to be different from the world. When people slap you - turn the other cheek. Forgive others as you want God to forgive you. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Be meek, merciful, humble, grieve those who are lost to God, produce good fruit. That is the short list of things that Christ wants us to do for others - he told disciples that people would know they were his by the fruit they produced. Steven Curtis Chapman wrote a song about it on his album, "For the Sake of the Call." The song encourages us to show the world we are his by the branches on the vine, when you show yourselves to be following me (paraphrased, I lost the lyrics sheet).
What kind of fruit do you produce? Do you control your tongue? Or do you speak when you are angry and try to apologize later? Do you offer people a meal or to help the widows and orphans? Or do you hoard your money and save it for yourself? Are you willing to do the simple things like stop and help change a flat tire or do you keep on driving expecting someone else to help the person stranded at the side of the road? Who are you in the eyes of the world? Do they see Jesus when they see you?
Thank you for these times when you speak to our hearts and open our minds to what you have to say to us. Thank you for loving us, even when you don't deserve your love. Please keep working in our lives and producing the fruit so that we are good vines and trees and not dead to you. Please Lord, take our lives and make us a blessing to you and others. Help us to see others as you see them and bless us with a heart of compassion.
Have a good weekend. :D
Love in Christ,