Brandi & her hubby Pastor Pete are two of my fave christian blog friends (well 'friends' because if I know your name - I call you my friend - whether you know me or like me or not hehe).... they challenge me in many ways. One specific post indirectly sort of summed up why I am drawn to them so much... It was this post (really more the comments afterward) that had me asking her (and whoever because I was just sort of thinking outloud) about our actions and how we as Jesus-lovers and followers are to 'fit in' to this world. They seem to have found that balance of fitting in with the world enough that you have influence... but not being part of it so much that you are enveloped in worldly desires & activities. Somehow being able to be a part of this world and culture yet being a Jesus lover and follower above all.
I believe that the more I have grown in my relationship with the Lord - the spirit really does convict me in more and more areas and He reveals to me more and more how to live with a high moral code.
- Do I believe these standards make be better than others? No.
- Do I look down on people who don't have as high a standard (yet)? No.
- Do I believe any way of living will get me into heaven? No.
- Do I believe that God has called me to live differently than the world because of who is in me? Yes
- Do I believe it's important to not be involved in cultural or social activities that will tempt me or others to sin? Yes!
- Do I believe I should avoid all people who disagree with my moral code and live opposite of my lifestyle? No. No. No. No. No. That is who I should be seeking out to share Jesus' love with!
- Do I believe it's my job to 'call out' all the actions of people around me that are sinful, a worldly temptation to them or others, etc.? No! SOMETIMES God will use me to sharpen others, SOMETIMES when asked, I can give advice or my opinion .... but more than anything I am to show with my ACTIONS, not my words. I am to pull people toward me to draw them to Jesus --- not push them to their knees to Him.
But I was asking God for help in this area... HOW do I influence the world - but not be influenced myself?!!!
I feel like I have such a high moral code because I know too much at this point. I have seen too much sin and I have seen it evolve from small little seeds to great, monstrous, full blown immoral ugliness. I have been able to become aware of one little action and be able to discern that that one bad decision I saw would be the trickle of evil that the devil would turn into a floodgate if the person wasn't on guard.
I have seen this evil world chip away at a person's heart little by little until the world has won them over and they didn't even realize they had put down their armor. I know that sin creeps in, in tiny tiny tiny ways.... that the devil doesn't come and steal people outright --- he turns up the heat and sin in our lives in almost unnoticeable ways... and before we know it, he has us. It boils down to very small seeds of sin that were the beginning of the end of a once pure cleansed heart. I put a lot of protection around myself, my home and what I allow in to our eyes and ears because I know what tempts me and I know myself and that many times it's better for me to avoid temptations all together!
Am I legalistic? What does that even mean?
- I guess I am in the sense that I avoid many 'worldly' things
- I guess I am not because I don't judge others or look down on them for not living the same as me.
- I guess I am because I am 'strict' in what I will allow into my home and what I will allow my family to take part in
- I guess I am not because I don't call out everybody's sin around me -- I have way too much of my own sin to call out.
- I guess I am because I believe that Jesus did not abolish morality. I believe there is a moral code designed by God. I believe any action short of this perfect Truth to be a sin.....and although I will continually come up short, I believe that it's what I strive for... to be able to follow the Truth more and more as I become more christlike, as in perfect, perfectly moral, perfectly merciful, perfectly aligned with The Father. Now can I get there myself? No. But I believe that Jesus fulfilled the Law and lived a life to show us what righteousnses was all about. My goal is to allow Him to work through me to become more righteous and christlike every day.
- I am not because I try not to assume things about a person by their actions - without knowing their reason or their heart.
PHEW! :) So that is what God has been laying on my heart.
SOOOO.... though I haven't gotten all the concrete answers I desire - I'm getting somewhere in my thoughts. I'm going to continue to read the Bible about this topic and listen to what God says to me. God DID answer some of my questions in this article in The Worshipper though. It wasn't even a few days later that I asked - and there He was speaking to me through this article!! I was blown away when I opened up that magazine Sunday and saw this:
How Can We Be In But Not OF The World? by Chuck Smith Jr. Wow! :) thanks God! :)
Here are some of my favorite parts of the article:
- This language of "in, but not of" comes from Jesus' prayer in John 17.
- Jesus prayed for them to be protected from evil - that is the harm that a hateful world/ devil would inflict on them
- What world hated Jesus? The religious world (their laws, traditions, rituals?). In fact, their hatred had been predicted in their own sacred text. John 15:25
- How was Jesus not of the world? Certainly not by standing outside of culture, because His first miracle involved providing wine for a wedding reception. John 2:1-10
- On the other hand, Jesus was not a slave to the traditions of either culture or religion, for He violated conventional boundaries when He opened a dialogue with a Samaritan (and she as a woman!) and also healed on the Sabbath. (John 4:9, 27; 5:16-17)
- In the light of John's entire gospel, it becomes clear that not being 'of this world' means that a person is neither a product of the world nor defined by it. (John 8:23 & 28-29).
- Therefore disciples are free to go anywhere or venture into any cultural arena so long as these environments do not define them.
- SOOO HOW can we be so completely in God that no place, culture or influence can redefine us? John 17 says, "sanctify them in the truth. Your Word is the Truth." (John 17:17 & 19). To sanctify is to make sacred, to surrender something to God so that is belongs to Him.
- If our essential identity is defined kept and renewed by holiness, our belonging to God..... nothing in the world can own or change us! We are free to move about the earth, in and out of cultures like Abraham or Paul. We can be in Babylon (daniel) but not defined by Babylon.
- HOWEVER, If we do NOT belong to God (& if we aren't sanctified in His word), we probably should not step outside or turn on a tv or computer.
SO WOW! I loved that! It just depends what I'm filling myself up with MORE right? Am I soaking myself in His Word and Truth so that all other influences are secondary!??!!?
That had some really awesome ideas for me to think on more. I'd love YOUR thoughts too! :)