Monday, January 30, 2012

Influence or Influenced?

"Do not conform any longer 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." -Romans 12:2.

God calls us not to conform to the standards of this world, but to live by the example Jesus set for us. We are to always lead holy lives. "Holiness" is one of those Christian words you hear over and over, and I've realized that people don't often teach what it actually means in ways that are easy to understand. I got to a point in my spiritual walk where I had to start questioning the beliefs I've taken for granted my whole life, and during this time, I had to redefine everything. 

Within the realm of Christianity, I see a set certain range of characteristics:

1. On one end of the scale, we have the group of Christians that try to set themselves apart for God by completely isolating themselves from the world and from anything and everything that can do them harm. 

The good thing about this attitude is that you're constantly in good Christian fellowship.

The problem with this is that by separating ourselves from the world to that degree, we can no longer relate to the people of the world. We turn ourselves into "bubble Christians," obsessed with achieving only the end goal of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) and not concerning ourselves with the relationships that are needed to make this change in people. You can't make a change in someone's life if they can't relate to you. You create relationships when people can relate to you. We just live in our own religious bubble, and thats how non-Christians see it. God wants us to live an attractive life that catches others attention. He gave us this world to enjoy. We shouldn't be so careful that we close off all pleasures. Think about it, Jesus Christ himself began to manifest His glory and power for the first time at a party. We all go to parties to have fun. So it looks like that Jesus went to this wedding to have a good time. And He turned water into wine, which means that everyone probably had a better time after that ;) And if anyone should have had a sense of urgency, it would have been Jesus.

2. On the other end of the scale, we have the group of Christians that actively immerse themselves in the world, and try to reach as many unbelievers as quickly as possible. 

The good thing about this is that you can reach a large number of people that need Jesus, and since you are familiar with the world, you can relate to them well. 

The problem with this is that we can lose ourselves in the temptations of the world. Over-immersion can lead to very negative results. You always run the risk of turning into the people you hangout with. And without consistent, edifying Christian fellowship, this will be a very real danger. You can turn into the very people you are trying to be a light for.  

And I've found through personal experiences, trying to save someone and prevent suffering in their lives can turn into a big obstruction between you and God. We oftentimes isolate one person in our lives, and make it a priority to influence them and hopefully change them. And it can sometimes turn into an obsession where we try to do everything within our power to change them. But this may not be God's plan. We have to accept the fact that God may only use us to sow the seed, and be at peace with the fact that we may not ever see that person grow in Christ. And we need to learn how to discern when it is time to let go of that relationship, and let God work inside of that person through other means. God speaks to us through our circumstances, and when we feel the pressure of those circumstances, that's when we have to ask for God's will. We have to rejoice in the fact that God is in control, and whether it's through us or some other means, He will always continue to work in those relationships that matter most to us. 

So now we know both ends of the spiritual spectrum. We have to figure out where we need to be on that scale. To do this, we need to redefine "holiness." I believe that we are to be holy as it was expressed in the life of Jesus Christ. He was perfectly set apart for God from birth to death. Yet we always read about how he was always hanging out with the lowest people of society. He ate dinner with tax collectors, he healed lepers, he talked and ministered to prostitutes, to adulterers, to murderers, etc... The healthy didn't need to be healed, and He made this a point during His lifetime. But during all of this, he was always surrounded by His Christian brothers, and never stopped spreading the gospel. 

We are to strive to live like Jesus. He set the example for us to follow. The easy part is understanding this, the hard part is living it. 


  1. I've always liked the saying, "too Christian, too pagan." You need to be too Christian for your pagan friends, and too pagan for your Christian friends. Like you said, easy to understand, hard to live. You end up making everyone uncomfortable at times. I think it's something you get used to after a while though...

  2. I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for taking the time to write it down. It is well written and also it has some interesting insights, especially where it says that trying to save someone can turn into a big obstruction betwen us and God. This is important stuff...