Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Although this post is for my American brothers and sisters in Christ, if you are not American, it will someday apply to the situation in your country. Perhaps it already does.
If you are not a Christ-follower, let me explain the term by means of this crash course:
According to the Bible, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) That’s just another way of saying, “Nobody’s perfect,” which I think we can all agree on.
Here’s the problem: The Bible also says, “The wages of sin is death …” (Romans 6:23a) Wages are what we have earned. And what we have earned by living life our own way is eternal death – spending eternity apart from God, Who is holy and perfect. It makes logical sense. After all, if anyone imperfect entered a perfect heaven, heaven wouldn’t be perfect any more, would it?
So … now what?
The good news that comes after this bad news is in the second half of the verse: “… but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:23b) While “wages” are what we’ve earned, a “gift” is given freely, and, thank God, we didn’t have to earn eternal life, or it would never be ours. The sacrifice that paid the price for our sins took place when the perfect Son of God (Jesus) willingly allowed Himself to die on a cross in our place.
But for something to be a gift, it must be received. To be cleansed from our sins, we need to repent (be willing to turn around and go another way), believe that Jesus’s death paid our ransom, and that He has opened up the way for us to live the lives we were created to live, with His help. For a more detailed version of this plan of salvation, these earlier posts might help:
Those of us whose lives have been transformed by Christ have been adopted into another family, another kingdom. Paul wrote, “But our citizenship is in heaven.” (Philippians 3:20a) Unfortunately a lot of us, especially in America, seem to be forgetting about our “dual citizenship.” At least we seem to be behaving as if this world is all there is.
Here’s a little pop quiz to see how you’re doing in this time of testing:
1.) Is your hope in the Lord or in a politician?
2.) Is your ultimate focus on your problems or the problem Solver?
3.) Can you rejoice in the Lord, no matter who wins the election?
4.) Are you pleasant and kind to people who disagree with you?
5.) When people are nasty towards you, do you treat them well anyway?
6.) Are you more interested in winning people to your God, or to your party?
7.) Do you have compassion on people going through suffering, even when you believe they brought it on themselves?
8.) Do you pray for your enemies?
9.) Can you walk away from an argument without wanting the last word?
10.) Do you let your behavior and attitude preach the gospel along with your words?
In these days of uncertainty, it seems everyone around us is stressing out. People are anxious about the outcome of the election. People are suspicious, as evidence of vote tampering are popping up everywhere. (Yes, people are cheaters – does that come as a surprise to any of us???) People are fearful about what will happen to our country if the “wrong” sinner is elected to office. People are angry with the “other side” for real or perceived wrongs. People are terrified of the violence that may break out – and oh by the way, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Rage, fear, and despair are the norm for “everybody.”
But, brothers and sisters, we are NOT called to be like “everybody!” We are called to be lights in the darkness. Peter wrote,
“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (I Peter 2:9)
Sure, it’s getting darker all the time, but the darker the sky gets, the brighter and more visible the stars shine! Paul wrote,
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.” (Philippians 2:14-16a) [emphasis mine]
Have you caught the vision yet? These dark times are not a time to get sucked into the world’s mindset! If we are behaving with the same attitudes as everyone else, who is going to be interested in what we have to offer in the way of God’s Truth? Everyone has their own “truth,” and unless there’s something different about us, ours will seem like just one more opinion.
BUT, if we show ourselves to be different from the world, because we are citizens of another world – NOW we will stand out, and those who are seeking something better will be drawn to us.
This is a golden opportunity, friends. Let’s not blow it! This is a test. Are we passing?
Prayer: Lord, You have called us to be citizens of another world, one so much better than the one we’re seeing now. Help us not to get sucked into the darkness, but to shine Your light more brightly than ever. May we show the difference You make in our lives, in the name of Jesus, who called us out of darkness into Your wonderful light. Amen.