Before proceeding, I would like to make a certain number of things clear. Some things are obviously wrong and sinful (for example murder, fornication, bestiality etc.) since they are against God’s Word, as such, they should be hated and avoided (hate the sin but love the sinner). Some other things are silver clear holy and pure (for example worshipping God sincerely, sexual purity, saying the truth etc.). We know they are holy and pure because they are approved of by God in The Bible. However, there’s another category of things which aren’t specified in The Bible as being right or wrong (for example wearing jewelry, playing football, putting on makeup, wearing high heels, putting artificial hair extensions etc.)
Right now, I want to talk about this category. In order to live a life of sanctification and adoration, some Christians voluntarily choose to preserve themselves from certain things, while others intentionally choose to take very important and challenging decisions in their spiritual lives. I’ll give some examples (the characters in these examples are fictional )
- John loves playing football, but ever since he gave his life to Christ Jesus, he doesn’t play football any longer, rather, he decides to save that time aside to study his Bible and pray.
- Paul loves playing videogames, but ever since he decided to draw closer to God, he threw all his video games in the trash can , because he noticed those he had only portrayed violence and that wasn’t what he wanted to reflect. He knows he could buy videogames which portray a better message but he chooses not to , and to spend those hours serving in his local church instead of playing videogames.
- Laura grew up in a Christian home and loves The Lord Jesus Christ, she decides not to date during her highschool and college years till she’s ready for marriage. She doesn’t want a short-term relationship but a Christ-centered courtship aiming at marriage, as such she puts dating aside till she’s ready for marriage.
- Martha loves worshipping God. When she sings to The Lord while praising and adoring, she dances with all her joy and energy , she raises her hands up high in adoration, she moves up and down in the hall and lies down on the floor as she adores God.
I don’t know whether you’ve noticed what they all have in common, but I’ll say they took a decision for The Lord, the way they define their relationship with God ,the way they choose to honor Him, it’s different for each but it’s their way to glorify God in their lives.
Unfortunately for John, Paul, Laura and Martha most of their friends will look at their decisions or modes of life as being absurd ,and a good number of people will qualify them as “religious extremists”, not because they would have bombarded a town (like terrorists do) but because they chose to do whatever they wanted with their lives in order to glorify God and live a life of sanctification and adoration.
- John will never try to discourage his friends from playing football, in fact he will never see it as a sin, but his friends will intrude into his personal life with God and tell him “ John, you’re exaggerating, it’s just football ,it’s not a sin, we’ve been playing football ever since and none of us is going to hell”. Whereas, John never said football was a sin or led to hell, he just decided to abstain from it and focus on spending time with God .
- Paul’s friends will tell him he’s going too far “Come on Paul, those are just videogames,why do you act so silly , why have you changed?”
- Laura’s friends will tell her “ Time’s passing by ,life is now ,have fun and enjoy life now ,stop being so extremist and rigid ,stop acting like a robot, stop repressing your natural desires to be in a relationship.”
- People will look at Martha while she’s worshipping and despise everything she does . They’ll consider it as witchcraft or humiliation because she isn’t worshipping in a “conventional manner” to them.
Think about this clearly, may be out there ,you have a friend who has made a really nice decision in his/her life about serving God ,or who serves God in a way different from yours and you don’t understand how nor why. Ask yourself if you’ve despised, judged or discouraged your classmate who decided not to put on make up because she wanted to be sober and find her beauty only in God ,or your friend who is in a church different from yours where they worship by dancing and singing way more than in yours. Ask yourself whether you’ve discouraged your friend who wanted to dress humbly in order to honour God or who decided to avoid some places in order to draw closer to God. Have you discouraged, degraded and or despised a Paul, John ,Laura or Martha in your entourage? If so you can repent now.
Maybe you’re the John in the story ,or Paul or Martha or Laura . Maybe people around you haven’t understood the way you lived your relationship with God ,and they criticized you for that. May be they just didn’t understand. They didn’t have to criticize but they did . Nevertheless, remember that the most important isn’t what your friends, spouse ,parents ,siblings ,think of you. What matters is that you’re doing something to glorify God , something which is absolutely not against His Word and something which is meant to draw you closer to Him. If you already have God’s approval for such a thing (and you can be sure you have it ) then don’t let anyone discourage you, forgive them for their ignorance and run your race towards God.
We’ll end with a little story from The Bible.
2 Samuel 6:14-16, 20-23 NIV
Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal (David’s wife) daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord , she despised him in her heart. When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord , who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord ’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord . I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death
Next time you’re tempted to criticize a true servant of God and his/her way to live his/her faith in God ,in adoration and sanctification, remember this story. You may not understand their relationship with God but don’t despise, avoid to mock and criticize. Don’t even try to dissuade. Let them live their faith in God in peace, so long as they’re not doing anything contrary to God’s Word in their way of adoring God and serving Him. Infact what does it have to do with your life ?Why can’t you just let them live their faith freely?? Whoever you are for this person, God comes first, the person second, and you third. Live your life and stop criticizing those of other Christians.
Next time you find yourself accused and despised because you did your best to serve God and praise Him, just like king David was attacked by his own wife , remind this person that you are doing it for God and He deserves even better and more . Even if they try to discourage you ,insist on the fact that you’ll continue serving God in that manner .
Father Lord God Almighty, I acknowledge that at times I haven’t really understood some peoples’ way of serving God as well as some of their decisions and our differences in so many areas . I apologise for all the times I mocked them, criticized them,and even accused them of not being real servants of God but of acting/pretending/exaggerating just because I couldn’t grasp what they were doing. Help me adore You in truth and in spirit, help me hold firm even when others don’t understand nor support my choices for The Lord, help me keep my mouth shut when I have nothing good to say , in Jesus Christ’s Name I pray . Amen
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