That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life...
Philippians 2:15-16a

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Is it Really That Hard?

Is it really that hard to live for God? I don't find it that terribly difficult most of the time, although there definitely have been hard times.  I've been discouraged.  I've felt like giving up.  Many times I wonder if it is worth it.  The world is very enticing.  It's all around us.  Screaming at us to follow it.  Luring us with it's colour, lights, and promises of fun.  I remember one particular struggle I had with how I dress.  If you know me, you know that I dress fairly conservatively.  I wear skirts pretty much all the time, winter, spring, summer, fall (NO, I don't freeze to death in the winter; that's why long johns and tights were created :).  I try to be modest and not wear anything extremely tight fitting or low cut.  I remember being at the mall once trying to buy some new clothes and feeling so absolutely frustrated!  The choices I had were so few!  I'd walk into stores that had racks and racks of beautiful clothes, and there would be maybe ONE thing I could actually wear that didn't show off half my chest, or my mid-driff, or cling to me like saran wrap!!!  I can remember thinking that if I just gave up all these stupid ideas about modesty, I'd have so many more choices!  I could look so nice!  I could easily find something to wear!    

Recently, I've been hearing and seeing a lot of people who call themselves Christians who live and look so much like the world.  These are people around my age - young adults.  They grew up in good Christian homes, but their pictures on facebook show them drinking beer and martinis. They dress in tops that show off half their upper body (I was going to use a more descriptive word, but I don't want to make my blog too graphic).  The language they use is, in a word, coarse. 

It makes my heart SO sad when I see people who name the name of Christ making a mockery of Him by their actions.  I'm not talking about new Christians here.  A lot of new Christians simply haven't matured to the point of knowing that the low-cut, v-neck sweater is inappropriate.  I'm talking about people who should know better.  People who were raised in church.  People who were born into Christian families.  People who homeschooled, went to youth group and Sunday school, and attended Christian camp in the summer.  I'm talking about adults that I used to look up too as role models, and now they openly drink and swear.  What happened?  I don't understand?  Was living for Christ that difficult that you just decided to throw the towel in and give up?  Was it that hard to take a stand against sin?  Was the world so attractive to you?  Was it that hard to be separate from unholy things?  Did it really look like that much fun that you just HAD to give in?  I just don't get it.

I think many Christians fail to realize the sphere of influence that they have.  Every action.  Every word.  Every attitude you display.  Someone is watching you.  Someone is learning from you.  Someone is being influenced by you.  Many think it's okay to dress indecently.  After all it's my body; it's my decision.  But is it really your body? What? know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (I Cor 6:19).   Can you hear Paul's distress in this verse?  Can you hear the concern in his voice?  He was so troubled at the actions of the Christians in Corinth.  Was he troubled because their actions were wrong in and of themselves?  No, he was troubled because as Christians these people were representing the Lord Jesus Himself.  They were the house, home, and living place of the Holy Ghost Himself!  Their actions were a reflection of Christ, and they were living in open sin and wickedness!  Paul is saying, Hold on a second!!!  You're life is not yours, it's GOD'S!  And whatever you do is the picture you are showing the world of HIM!  It comes back to influence. These believers were showing the world a picture of God as a fornicator, a drunk, and someone who is constantly fighting with others.  It's sad to say, but many 21st century Christians are painting the same kind of picture.  

Was Paul upset with the Corinthians because he was just a mean guy and hated everyone?  No, he was upset because he LOVED them too much to let them continue in their sin.  But even more than that he LOVED God, and out of that love he wanted to encourage others to live for Christ.  I'm not angry at anyone.   I'm not trying to criticize or condemn anyone.  Christ loved us SO much that He died to forgive us our sins and give us eternal life.  How are we repaying Him for that sacrifice?  We indulge in the very acts that nailed Him to the cross!  All He asks is a life surrendered to Him.  All He asks is for us to please Him.  All He asks is for us to follow after His ways, and seek His will.  But, we continue to keep one foot in the world and one foot in the church.  No man can serve two masters (Matt 6:24).   When I think about what the Lord did for me, I cannot help but say, "Here's my life, take it, use it."  My greatest desire is to please HIM, not to please myself or my flesh.  Believe me, if I was about pleasing myself my life would be much different.  I would wear pants. I would listen to rock music. I would watch LOTS of tv.  I would read romance novels.  I would be in the community choir.  I would go to a different church that actually has people my age.  I would go to concerts and shows much more often.  And that's just my short list.  

It wasn't always easy for me to live for Christ, but the more I surrender to Him the easier it gets.  I don't think a lot of Christians ever find this out.  They are never willing to take the first step of surrender, so they never realize how much easier it gets.  That first step is hard!  It's hard because we all know what it means.  Taking the first step means there's going to be a second step, and a third step, and so on.  We all know that as we surrender one area of our life to God, He's going to show us other areas that need to be surrendered.  If I give God my tv shows then what else is He going to ask of me?  Am I going to have to give up my music and my worldly clothes too?  The flesh says "I DON'T WANT TO!" but the Spirit says in it's still small voice "just give it up."  Here's the thing.  God does want us to surrender every area of our lives, but He doesn't ask us to do it all at once.  If He did, we would all fail.  He also doesn't ask us to do it all by ourselves.  That's a recipe for DISASTER!  Instead, He convicts us of one area at a time.  Then He gives us the power to overcome in that area.  I can do all things through Christ... (Phil 4:13).  Once we gain victory in that area, He's going to convict us in another area, and give us the power AGAIN to overcome.  That's how amazing our God is!  He helps us.  Maybe we know there's A LOT in our lives that needs to change.  Don't focus on the big change, focus on one thing at a time.  Pray for victory in that area.  Seek the Lord and trust Him.  Read your Bible!  God WILL give you victory.  He promised it, and He does not go back on His Word.  

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