This post is part of the Salt and Light linkup! Go check it out!
Everyone has something to say. Ev-ery-one.
Lately we can’t seem to get away from the information overload.
That’s one problem in and of itself. Maybe we’ll talk about that another time. But another layer, beneath that, is the fact that so much of the information is faulty. Thanks to the lovely Internet (no, it’s not evil – but it’s a tool for whatever the user intends), everyone who has something to say now has a platform. While this can be a valuable and beautiful thing, it can also allow this overwhelming influx of ideas and beliefs into our minds.
Enough of this flood, and our world-view begins to be altered.
It’s not possible to completely insulate ourselves from the world and its differing beliefs, nor do I believe we should. As Christians, our directive is straightforward – to GO and make disciples. That’s not going to happen if we sit comfortably in our little Christian bubble. However, I think it’s important to take a moment and remember that, although saved and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, we are human. Therefore, we have limits and weaknesses.
What are we ingesting?
What we take in on a regular basis is what forms our thinking and changes the direction of our hearts. If all we’re getting is a steady diet of whatever-happens-to-be-popular from our culture, it WILL change us.
The contradictions between the word of the world and the word of the Lord are innumerable. I won’t even try to come up with a comprehensive list. Today, all I want to do is address a few issues which have been front and center in my mind recently.
In order to face the wrongs of the fallen world in which we live, and to meet them with the truth and love of the Gospel, we HAVE to arm ourselves with that truth – to the point that it’s always the first thing on our minds.
Here are some areas I’ve found that I need to improve my armor and ammunition (Ephesians 6:10-13).
1. The world says…People don’t really change.
This phrase is used in a number of instances, including problems in family and marriage. The result is often hopelessness. If someone you love struggles in an area of life, or a relationship has gone through significant difficulties — it’s not getting any better, nor will it.
The root of this belief is that people are responsible for their own destinies, and that we’re all operating under our own power. With that in mind, I actually AGREE with this belief. On our own, we can’t create real, fundamental change in ourselves.
God says…NOTHING is beyond His power.
He is able to redeem the most broken relationship, to restore the most battered life.
He removes the heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh (Ezekial 36:26).
He breathes new life into even dry bones (Ezekial 37:1-6).
In Him, we are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17-18).
Confession and repentance brings the opportunity for God to cleanse us of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 and Psalm 51:10-12)
God finishes what He starts, including the work of changing a person’s heart (Philippians 1:6).
2. The world says…focus on self.
Self-love, self-care, self-esteem. Major buzzwords. This gets murky, even within the Christian community. We’re encouraged to put ourselves first, to gratify our desires, to follow our hearts and pursue our dreams. All of this is in order to feel good about ourselves.
But how does that compare to what God says about us?
God says…You have value as My creation. Place Me first, and I will care for you.
Our self-worth and value comes from the fact that we were lovingly created by a God (Psalm 139:13-16) who outlined the paths of our lives before the foundations of the earth (Ephesians 1:3-6).
We were given these bodies to live in, and we should take care of them, but they’re only made to house our souls. The more we seek fulfillment from looking inward, the more disappointed we will be.
Speaking for myself, I am NOT a reliable source of information on my own. I can “self-talk” myself into a mess of bad thinking – including under- or over-valuing my “self”. In my experience, the best antidote to this pattern is simply thinking of myself a little less – directly contrary to society’s advice.
I’ve found that when I’m focused first on the will of God, and then on the needs of others, caring for myself falls into place, but it doesn’t consume me.
3. (This is a big one.) The world says…truth is relative.
I’ve seen the exponential growth of this idea throughout my adult life. I want to speak really carefully and clearly here. Some of the messages we hear are:
A) each person has his or her own truth (some even say these truths are all essentially the same and lead to the same result) and
B) that refusal to accept a person’s beliefs is the equivalent of hatred.
We are bombarded with these messages from all sides, and Christians (including me) struggle to maintain a grasp on Biblical truth while demonstrating real love toward those around us who believe differently (Matthew 5:13-16).
We shouldn’t expect to hear a different message from people who have not been saved by the grace of God. A mistake so many of us fall into is expecting non-believers to behave like believers. They cannot–just as we cannot, apart from the power of the Holy Spirit.
God says…I am absolute truth. (John 14:6)
As we are confronted daily with opportunities to evaluate what we hear, we must have a standard against which to hold it. (Romans 12:2) As a Christian, my standard should be God’s Word; what doesn’t align with it is simply not truth.
This sound harsh. This sounds intolerant. Why would we choose to submit to this authority? Honestly, we wouldn’t. As naturally sinful people, NONE of us are inclined to put ourselves under something that will dictate our decisions.
But thankfully, if we are saved by the grace of God through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), our old selves are gone (Galatians 2:20). The fruit of this regeneration is good work (Ephesians 2:10) in response to the love and redemption of Christ. THIS is what prompts obedience to His Word, to choose to live according to the truth.
This obedience also includes living in love toward this world full of people, who don’t hold to the truth of God’s word. (John 13:34-35) This article from Crosswalk does a great job of breaking down the characteristics of real love, listed in 1 Corinthians 13 – and how those should play out in our lives, showing love to the world.
Once again, just as in this post, the purpose of writing this is to point us back to the source. Back to God, who loves us and wants to use us to reach this world. Back to His word, which provides the truth AND armor against untruth. Back to prayer, and surrender in this process of sanctification.
May we all be encouraged to stand firm in the truth, and to do so with love.