Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Pick Things Up, I Put Things Down

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15: 13

A lot of people like to live on the edge. Perhaps you and I are among them. We want to be called a Christian, we want to go to Church (at least when it is convenient) and we want to be saved in the long run. But in the short run, we aren’t sure we really want to live all out for God. We want to continue to balance on the fence between living for God or living in the world, or keep one foot dangling in the water of temptation, or ride right along the edge of the chasm of mortal sin and try not to fall into it.

I think young people are especially tempted to live this kind of Christian life because of all the pressure they face to fit in from their peers and from the media. It seems easier to keep one foot in each camp and try to survive, then to really give your heart completely to God. Adults do this too, at work, or even within their families, but young people are the forefront of Satan’s attacks and they have it the hardest.

The way this most often plays out is when a young believer wants to follow Jesus, but at the same time, surrounds themselves with people who are not trying to follow Jesus. While on the one hand they are trying to live a moral life and not get into situations that will tempt them to sin, their friends don’t even consider the idea of sin and so the things they want to do and the situations they want to be involved in are often exactly contrary to what the young believer should be doing. The problem is that in this scenario, so often the young person stands on pride and believes that they will be not only strong enough to withstand the temptation constantly around them, but at the same time, bring their friends to an understanding that what they are doing is wrong. And in some rare cases, where God has given an abundance of extra grace for a specific purpose, this may be possible, but I think in most cases the believer is kidding themselves and using the case for evangelization as a justification to live in both worlds.

But if we live this way, we have to realize that we are most likely going to get burned. Why? Simple. It is much easier to knock someone down than to pick them up. For instance, think of the biggest, strongest guy in your school. Now picture the tiniest girl at your school. If the guy were to stand on a folding chair and you told the girl she could do whatever she wanted to knock him down, it would not take her very long to get him to lose his balance and fall off the chair. But if you asked that guy to lie on the ground and had the girl try to pick him up, it just wouldn’t happen. Perhaps if she had enough friends they could all work together and do it, but not by herself. The same is true in our spiritual lives. If we are trying to follow Jesus and surround ourselves with a bunch of people who aren’t, then it is going to be very easy for any of them to knock us down. On the contrary, if we surround ourselves with others who are trying to follow Christ then we will pick each other up when we fall.

This of course does not mean we should find a little Christian clique and become exclusive to everyone else. But it means we recognize our own weaknesses and the temptations of our world and choose to be with people who are going to help us keep our eyes on the prize while trying to bring others into the peace and joy and love of Jesus that we experience.

Dear Jesus, please help me to be wise in selecting friends. Help me to choose friends that will draw me closer to You, so that when I meet those who do not know You, I will have the strength and confidence to show them Your love. Amen. 

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