Monday, 08 October 2012
By Denise Mesa
Crossing the boundaries between culture and your position in Christ is totally a hard thing to cope with. How will you show to them the changes and the good news of God without letting them feel awkward at the same time?
One thing I've realized is that you can’t please them to understand you, because once in your life they saw you in the culture where they are. You were in the same position before you meet Christ. I’ve done things that I knew was a sin. I did things that I thought were normal in human life. I've lived a life the way the world offers to me, and I will admit I enjoy every bit of it.
But know I have to cross the boundaries of sinful life to Christ like. Accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior doesn’t mean that you have to shut yourself from other people, from having social relationship with them. How will you show to them who are Christ if you shut yourself to them? It doesn’t mean that if you join them you’ll have to do the things they do.
God gave you common sense to think on your own. He gave you wisdom to think what is right and what is wrong. He said in His word in Proverbs 9:10 -- “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." And remember you have been given the chance to speak for your own. You have the Holy Spirit with you and help you understand the situation and the courage to speak for your own.
I guess there is no reason to isolate ourselves from them unless you know in yourself that sinful culture is more powerful than your faith. That means that, if you are still weak and the enemy can easily attack you, don’t test yourself when it comes to this matter. Build your foundation on solid ground in a way that no sin can shake you or snatch you from God. Be equipped, have a strong faith, have a spiritual family and most importantly pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then reach out these people.
How can you reach out to others if you will not build a relationship to them? You have to gain their trust if you want to reach these people. Always put yourself in their position.
Before I become a Christian, when someone would share a word with me, I would feel so awkward and think that person is weird and hard to understand. It was like where did this person came from? From what planet did they get those words that they are talking about? In the same way, to those people you are like that. For them you are the most weirdo person they encounter. When you invite them to your church and tell them a verse from the Bible you're telling or impressing to them that you are more holy than them -- especially if you have not build a strong foundation or relationship to them.
I understand that hanging out with them is a big challenge to us because we are prone to temptation, but let us remember that we have God in our life. We have His powerful word that no temptation can shake us. God teaches us to wear His armor of protection everyday. He said in Ephesians 6:10-19,
“Finally be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggles is not against flesh and blood, but against the ruler, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realm. Therefore put the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand on your ground, and after have you have done everything to stand. Stand firm then with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayer and request. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chain. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
This is such a powerful verse that God is giving to us that no enemy can bring us down. Wear this full armor every day so that, even if you are surrounded with worldly people, you still protected. Being with their culture doesn’t mean that you have to do what they did.
A friend once told me that it’s okay to be friends with them if we remember that God wants us to be with people have who lost their lives to sin, not just the people who already have relationship with Christ. He said in His word:
“It is not the healthy who need the doctor but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinner.” Mark 2:17
But know your limitations when you are around them. Stand firm to your faith. Respect their views in life, but also remember your integrity, honor, honesty and work ethic that you need to keep. The best example I can see if we want to share God’s word with them is by living the life God wants us to live.
People are curious in lots of things; when they see changes in us they wonder and they ask. When that happens, it’s our opportunity to share the word -- but never drag them to our congregation because it will make them run from us.
All of us are human created by God, yet some are lost and some have found the light, but let us not judge people in a negative way. But rather understand them and remember once in our lives we were sinful and were not saved because of the good things we did but by the blood of God.
Ephesians 2:8 "for it is by grace you been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God."
Let's be realistic. This is the reality that we need to face: we can’t let people accept the thing or the word of God by just telling them. I’m not saying that I don’t live the life God wants me to live or I don’t live Christ-like, but I choose to live my life so that I can bring the culture of my previous life to the life that I have in Christ. But it doesn’t mean that am going back to the sinful culture or sinful life that I had before.
What I'm saying is that you have one character in you that they can see. If it’s God, then be like Christ within in church or outside the church. Bring it with you anywhere you go, but don’t be too shallow or a person trying to portray that you are more perfect than them. God wants you to enjoy life and have it to the fullest. The word is not put there for restriction; rather it is a command, promise, wisdom and guide. Understand it the way God wants you to understand it, not the way you want to interpret it.
In my opinion, crossing the boundaries means to live your life to Christ or be with Christ but with the sense of reality. Meaning it’s not do's and don'ts, but rather it’s more about allowing God to arrange things for you. Don’t let others feel that they are condemned because of their sin. Remember God never persecutes us when we made mistakes or when we commit sin. Rather, He died for us.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us in every word so that we may speak according to God’s word, not on how much we understand the word. It not about head knowledge, it’s about proper application in life. No matter how deep your understanding of the word, if they see you in a different view you can’t show them who God is.
Yes we do have our identity in Christ and we don’t have to please people to make them like us. But we're talking about how to stay with the lost while you are in Christ.
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you cam stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:30
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" Matthew 7:3
How foolish it is for a person to criticize someone without seeing his/her own faults. An attitude of self-righteous has no place in the Christian life. Inspect your own life before you look for the specks in other.
How do you cross the boundaries of culture while still being a Christ-like person? How do you live "in the world" but not "of the world"? How do we minister to the culture around us while not becoming part of it?