Do you actually read to the end of these? Because when I get emails like this, they usually just sit there collecting dust… Maybe I should enjoy reading a little more. (Insert string of emoji. Also, what’s the plural of emoji?)
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about something for a month now and I wanted to put it in writing and publicly share it on the internet for the world to see, because that’s how we do in the 21st century. I’ve been wondering what the right way to live is. Is there actually a “right” way? How do we know what is socially or biblically acceptable and what is ridiculous? What is too much and what is too little?
Real talk: Guys, my whole life I have had such a hard time knowing how to live to please the Lord. Pleasing myself is probably the easiest thing to do, and it spills over into how I think I am honoring the Lord sometimes. I don’t really know what’s normal, either, because I’ve been homeschooled and surrounded by church friends my entire life. Sometimes when I’m with other people, I’ll just go along with whatever is cool at that moment and ignore my conscience nagging at me.
I’m writing this post because I haven’t figured it out yet. I feel like so many people say that to cover up the fact that they do (is that just me?), but I’m dead serious. However, I have a lot of good first-hand experience of being around the wrong people and thinking I can handle the bad influences. Spoiler alert: I fail about 90% of the time and end up doing stuff I’m not proud of after. Good influences are hard to come by these days. I’m talking about really strong Christian teenagers whom you and I can be around without compromising our own values or giving in to something we know isn’t totally wassup. Honestly, there aren’t really that many out there. And the bad influences are turning around and messing up the good. It feels like a losing battle.
Thankfully, though, there are still people I know that I feel comfortable being with because of the stands they’ve taken against compromising. It’s not easy stuff. Throughout our lives, we all have to fight our battles and choose the ones worth fighting for. I’m still fighting mine, you are still fighting yours, and the people around us are all fighting their own. We are all struggling. We are all human. We will all fail. But the beauty of being a child of God is that we are continually given second chances. Third chances. Sixty chances. Each one of those chances that I’ve gotten brings a new opportunity to be stronger than I was before, not that I’ve capitalized on many of them. I wish I had, but sometimes the pull of the world is stronger than I can handle. That leads me to my hypothesis: It’s not about me.
Every single of one those people who have taken a stand against compromising didn’t do it on their own. From conversing with them, I can tell that they’re different and that they live a life fulfilled in Christ. It clicked with me that that’s where I’m failing. I’ve been trying to do all these things by myself and working on becoming a better person and trying to make myself more likable. It’s all about me! None of that matters, y’all! We’re promised in John 12:25 that “he who loves his life will lose it.” I’ve shielded my eyes from the cross and looked down at my feet, trying to find my way through these tricky paths by myself, but it doesn’t work like that, and huge thanks to those friends for taking stands and making it so obvious to me.
The point is this: What they have done, and why I have failed is because they couldn’t care less about themselves. We’re all born to be selfish, but they’ve been strong enough to die to self and focus on things of eternal significance and how they can please God with His help.
In closing, I’m reminded of John 21:15-17. We’re all familiar with Jesus restoring Simon Peter after he denies Christ three times. It’s a pretty beautiful, poetic scene, right? Well, Jesus didn’t just stop there. There’s a reason that’s in the Bible (probably because God wanted us to read it). Peter is the easiest disciple for me to identify with because of his constant shortcomings and lack of faith. Yet he was truly zealous for God. In this scene on the sand, Jesus poses a rather blunt question to Peter: “Do you love me?” Christ is asking, every day, that of me and you. Because in the end, He loves us with complete abandon, and He just wants love in return. Everything else should stem from that love. We should be feeding His sheep, loving one another and encouraging each other with the stands we’ve taken against the world. Not by pulling completely out of it, but by being salt and light. Being different. Jesus is urging you today and every day, “Tell me you love me. Show me.”