I sometimes find myself projecting my beliefs or morals onto the world around me. I think that when people around me don’t follow the same set of biblical morals I do, they must feel guilty and know what they are doing is wrong.
I usually snap out of this mindset quickly. I realize I have been incredibly gifted with the Holy Spirit who instructs me, and a text (The Bible) that informs me. I realize I am becoming more and more aware of the way of God, and that those who do not know him have no reason to know how good his way is.
I have found this to be a freeing way to approach the world. When others wrong me, rather than being the victim, forgiveness comes quickly. Not only that, I see the potential opportunity to share Jesus with the people around me.
I was reading the story in Acts 17 where Paul and Silas are run out of Thessalonica by some Jews. They were shouting lying accusations, trying to get Paul and Silas arrested or killed. This was similar to the experience Jesus had when there were paid accusers telling lies to convict him. The more I read of scripture, the more I see this is the consistent behaviour of those opposed to Jesus.
It should come as no surprise that we today would face people who do the same. Their opposition is not just to the person of Jesus but also his way. They find their morales in something other than the way of Jesus. It makes sense this would sadden us, but it should not shock us.
I find there are 3 response options we have when we encounter this kind of situation.
- We can act as a victim and lash out.
- We can join on the same level.
- We can forgive them and choose the way of Jesus.
It is really important as we learn, to stop and gather ourselves before making a decision. I believe option 3 can become second nature to us, but that takes time and maturity. Just because we follow Jesus doesn’t mean we instantly make all the right decisions.
As I write this, I feel the need to clarify who I am calling to this biblical response. Those who do not know Jesus have no reason to share my convictions. They may in some way agree with me, but I am not an accountability for them, for I have no one to hold them accountable to. To my brothers and sisters in Christ, on the other hand, I have the obligation to remind of the way of Jesus. Again this is not as a victim, but one who wishes to see them flourish.
I believe that as followers of Jesus we are called to very high standards. We are ambassadors of Christ and our actions should reflect his way of doing things.
I am a big sports fan. If you ask the people who have played with or watched basketball with me, they will know I hate it when players flop or embellish a call. Some will call it acting, but I call it deceitful. They are essentially trying to lie to the refs to get them to call something that has not happened. To me, this isn’t just a part of the game, but an immoral act. I have come to grips with this being a part of today’s game, but I would still not participate in it.To me it would be like hiding conditions in the fine print of a contract. You might call my convictions petty or small, but I think all of our actions no matter how small should reflect the way of Jesus.
It is so freeing to realize the world is lost and in need of a saviour. We cannot, nor should, try to align their actions with our own. Rather, we should live the way of Jesus and invite others to know and follow him.
So many times I have found myself frustrated at the Patriot’s or Astro’s cheating scandals, or basketball players who seem to flop on every play. But now I see the reason I would act differently is not because I am better than they are, but because I know the living God who has shown me a better way. It is no longer anger, but compassion, that fills me.
I wish I could say I have mastered this. The truth is, this is a new lesson for me. It is a result of seeing the extent to which God has revealed his ways to me and forgiven me. I see more and more the distinction between my old life and my new. I am thankful for this revelation and feel so much more free being the odd one out.
“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.”
As we mature as believers, there should be more and more that separates us from the world we live in. There will be moral convictions that have changed, and some things we must give up entirely to follow Jesus. This will create an ever-growing chasm between us and the world. We will find more and more opportunities to be frustrated by the actions or words of others. That is no reason to remove ourselves, but more reason to become a light in the darkness.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Remaining in the way of Jesus is a conscious choice. We will daily have opportunities to go along with practices that are opposed to Jesus. We must spend time in his presence and in his word. We must continually be transformed by him with the renewing of our minds. God is so faithful to prepare us for what we face if we allow him. We will so easily align ourselves with what everyone around us is doing if we are not prepared. This should not cause us to fear, but to learn to listen to the voice of God and be prepared for what he allows us to face.
God is so gracious to walk with us, not so that we can change the people around us, but so that we can live transformed lives that reveal that Jesus is alive.