If you were to ask me, “What do you personally find the hardest part about being a Christian?” I could answer quickly but the pursuit of this has been no easy journey.
I think it’s really challenging to live a balanced life – one that is attractive to others so that they can see a difference, yet confidently living out truth that honors God but ultimately and often offends others. May I be honest? I have wrestled with balance since the day I became a Christian, at age fourteen. My conversion was a time of great joy but the euphoria didn’t last long. Reality hit hard when I went home after camp and with great passion, informed my mother that I had become a born again Christian – suffice it to say that my declaration of faith did not go over well, nor did my brashness move my mom any closer to Christ. If I can remember her exact words – she said, “sending you to that Christian camp was the worst decision I’ve ever made.” I made quite an impact.
Since that day, I have been exposed to many ideas of how I “should” live my Christian life. (“Shoulds” have always been a red light to me. Many well-meaning Christians seem to find shelter in a place of “belonging” where everyone around them are driven by “shoulds” – I’ve never understood that because I believe that the shoulds” are in great contrast to the freedom that we have in Christ…but that’s a whole other discussion.) I’ve been through the lifestyle evangelism season where I was encouraged to relate, hang out with and “be all things to all people.” I’ve also been taught that I am different because I am a Christian and that everything about me needs to be different – that I was never meant to “fit” in this world. I have seen rigid legalism and abused freedom – people seem to feel more “comfortable” with one extreme or the other.
So, I wrestle with this daunting question: How do I live in the world but not of it? I mean, when I wake up in the morning, how does my Christianity flesh itself out in a culture that is so obsessed with “what things look like.” What do I do with quotes like the one I read this morning…
“We are Christians and strangers on this earth. Let none of us be frightened; our native land is not this world.
St. Augustine of Hippo
Keep yourself as a pilgrim and a stranger in this world, as one to whom the world’s business counts but little.
…yet years ago, I was told that I “might be the only Bible that others read” so I need to relate to people and be bold with the Gospel message. Jesus said, “ It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” I need to be where the people are and that often leaves me being misunderstood or judged.
It all leaves me in a quandary. I need to be involved, yet separate. Bold, yet gentle. Informed, yet innocent. In the world but not of it.
Easy to say: hard to do.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God.
John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
I’m going to keep on thinking about this and get back to you tomorrow. If you have any thoughts on this, please do share!