Saturday, November 22, 2008

It Grieves Me

It won't make me popular, but it really weighs so heavy on my heart. Neal and I used to be youth leaders, and I see so many of those now young adults in the church today and they are living with one foot in the world and another in the church, they're there every Sunday morning, maybe even serving in ministry, but they're fighting headaches from hangovers from the night before. They're instructing the kids, telling them to make good choices, keep themselves undefiled, and then they go home and watch programming or listen to music that promotes, even exalts a lifestyle totally contradictory to biblical truth.

I cruise the MySpace Pages and Facebooks and I see all these comments and interests that really need to be taken stock of. They choose political correctness because righteousness isn't "cool." I wonder if it's become so acceptable that the conviction of the Holy Spirit has become completely squashed or do they live with some certain level of discomfort and lack of peace in their lives all the time? If they do, do they even recognize where it comes from?

As Christians we are to be IN the world, but not OF the world. But when living LIKE the world is there any effectiveness anywhere? Surely it soils the testimony to the unbelieving when your friends who don't know the Lord don't see any difference in you. And I worry about what influence you're having on those who come behind, those who see you walking a crooked path. It makes me really sad when I see it among people who I knew to once love and serve the Lord with commitment in their youth but have allowed themselves to be led astray without counting the cost, not only to themselves but to the peril of others.

I remember one time when Neal and I were young Christians and we went to Magic Mountain with a "believing" friend and Neal's unsaved brother (at least, I think at the time) and my "Christian" friend wore this Christian t-shirt and then spent the whole day gawking at and hitting on women, speaking disrespectfully to them, being lewd even, all the while having the name of Christ emblazoned across his chest. I just wanted to beg him to take off the shirt. He was a bad influence and a bad witness. I want to cry out to so many people I see living such worldly lives and I want to cry out "Don't tell them you're a Christian!"

I'm not saying I'm perfect, Lord knows I fail every day, but I try to respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit when it comes, I try to live honestly before my friends and family and admit my failures and turn back to God and ask Him yet again to change me. But I see so many young people at a crossroads, people I love and care about, they don't realize that the decisions they make in their late teens and early 20's can stay with them for the rest of their lives. God is a redeeming God, but you can and often will bear the scars of your choices now for a lifetime to come. Don't play games or serve the Lord halfheartedly, it is the lukewarm that He spits out of His mouth.

Don’t misunderstand me, there are also those I see that make me so proud, they have lived the life rightly before God, not perfect, but real, and true to what they believe. There are even those who have gone astray but have turned back to the Lord and are living testimonies of His redemptive work. But my heart weighs heavy with fear and concern for those who think they can live a double life, and I wonder why they would even want to?

You have to know who you are and what you believe, and then live like it. There is no room for compromise.

"I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn't make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn't mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue- or white-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You’d have to leave the world entirely to do that! But I am saying that you shouldn't act as if everything is just fine when one of your Christian companions is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house." 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 The Message

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