10.23.13 "The Contrast Struggle"

Today’s Scripture is: Ephesians 4: 17-24   (The Message)

17-19 And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.

20-24 But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.

This scripture is a perfect reminder of how Christianity and Culture Collide.   Pastor talked about that on Sunday… the conflict that exists between what’s normal and “ok” in our culture and how different God’s expectations of us are, in contrast to the world.  I’ve been a Christian a long time, but I still struggle (every day, by the way) with the challenges of what current culture says is OK… and what is actually OK in God’s eyes.  First of all, I struggle with the temptations of this world.  I watch popular movies that contain sex and killing and bad language, I spend too much time on You Tube or the internet, I don’t  take care of my body the way I should, and the list goes on… and on…. and on!  Living a contrast life can be tough, but I’m so thankful  that God is not done with me yet  and is constantly convicting me and giving me the desire and strength to change.

Secondly, part of my challenge is knowing that in the midst of a world that views  sexual obsession, addiction and perversion as OK – I, as a follower of Jesus, still have to function, live, grow, change, and be an example to people around me.  Sometimes it feels like a balancing act, with one foot in the world and the other in the Kingdom because I don’t want to be SO different that I’m seen as not relevant, not interesting, or judgmental.  Not because I’m worried about my own reputation, but because I’m worried that instead of attracting people to Jesus, I’m going to push them away or be a diversion.  At some point, I feel like I have to find some common ground with the “worldly – far from God” people in order to be seen as someone worthy of their time…or relevant enough to listen to.   Does that make sense?  And yet, God calls me to live a contrast life, so I can’t submerge myself into culture and I do have to be different!

It helps me to look at how Jesus led His life on earth.   He led a totally contrast life in the midst of the culture of that day….and He did push some people away with His convicting messages, but His message of love and forgiveness attracted just as many - so He dealt with the same thing I’m struggling with.  He went to parties, drank wine,  laughed, probably told jokes, hung out with the sinners,  wasn’t afraid to go into the places that other’s avoided – and because of this, He “connected” with people… He earned a hearing among the lost, while all the time remaining sinless.   So this beautiful example shows me it’s possible to be in the world, but not of the world.  That’s what I desire… to make connections with people far from God, hanging with them, loving them, enjoying them, not being afraid of their ways, not being afraid they are somehow going to rub off on me or cause me to sin… and eventually  earn their respect…which in turn, will lead to conversations about Jesus.  I can still live in and participate in the culture of this day, without surrendering my faith or beliefs because  “I’m living a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside that’s working itself into my  conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in me”.    That’s what living a contrast life is all about…. Letting God’s character show through me as I live and participate in this world!

What’s on your mind regarding today’s scripture?  What comes to your mind when you consider what it means to live a contrast life?