Welcome back to part two of On The fence! I hope the previous one left you with a lot to think about. You can check out part one HERE if you missed it.
Too often I see people identifying as Christians and then not living their identity. Too often I hear people claim to have “Christian values” and then not acting on them. Too often I see “Christians” pointing fingers at other lifestyle choices and then they turn around with the notion to sin themselves.
And that right there is why the word “Christian” is not a very popular one right now.
We tell people to love thy neighbor and then we bad mouth a mother who can’t keep her children quiet in church. What we don’t know is that the mother with the loud children just lost her husband due to a car accident. She’s just trying to make it through the day as a newly single parent.
We tell people to not murder but then we toss out hurtful words that crush a once vibrant soul.
We tell people to be kind and then we don’t include a certain person because of how they might make us look or they might hold a view that is different from our own.
Why do we do this?
Why are we so set on preaching the word, pointing out flaws, but we fail to see the plank in our own eye?
I catch myself sometimes watching someone else’s situation through a lens. I watch– I point– I scoff– at a situation in which I do not even know all the facts. Who looks more like a fool? The person I am watching or myself? Me of course! I am the coward standing in a “safe” spot behind the lens, wanting to preoccupy my mind with other people’s troubles so that I do not have to focus on mine.
So, are you on the fence?
It’s a simple question really but it takes a lot of pride shattering to admit that you’re not the “perfect Christian” that you thought you were. So what do we do now?
We need to figure out how to get off this fence we have built!
It would be nice if I could just say “stop focusing on other people, just focus on your own problems.” That would seem to solve the initial problem but the fact is that sin goes deeper than that. I have found myself saying this multiple times to my husband.. “Well, just stop being angry at him. There’s no point to be angry.” “Lying isn’t going to solve anything, just figure out another way”… etc. etc. etc.
The problem is that saying these things will not tackle the root of the problem! First of all, when we say something like this to someone or ourselves we are trying to say that it’s easy to stop doing something that you have done a long time. It’s not so easy to quit a habit after you have done it for so long; it doesn’t matter if the habit is smoking or video games. A habit is a habit and a habit can easily turn into an idol.
We are making our habit above God. When we say “I must have my coffee before church otherwise it’s so hard to focus”, is that not an idol? We need it so badly that we can’t give God our full attention without it!? Yes we can, we are just choosing to put something before God! “I’m sorry I can’t lend you $10 for food because I want to buy this TV next week.” Seriously? Is your money more important than someone’s welfare? NO! We are called to take care of God’s people. Doesn’t matter if we get the money back or not, if we are so attached to it that we can’t follow what God has told us to do, isn’t it an idol?
Our problems are much deeper than saying “get over it.” I am positive you can not name one situation that saying get over it truly helped the person. Can you? No you can’t, it’s neither supportive or helpful.
Okay, you’ve discovered that you are on the fence. You have discovered that you have a problem. Now what?
The first and foremost thing that we should ever do in any given situation is to pray about it.
And I’m not talking about the “God please help me” prayer. I’m saying that you need to have a heart breaking, tears streaming, prayer. Your heart needs to be broken over the fact that you have sinned. It should literally destroy us that we did something terribly wrong. If you cannot pray with a sincere brokenness over what you have done then you’re not really that sorry. God knows our hearts! When we are praying with severeness and ferocity, God is going to step in.
We need to pray for God to show us exactly what we are doing wrong in our life. It’s going to be painful, I will warn you now. You will notice things that you’ve done wrong that you had absolutely no idea before and you’ll start feeling down about yourself.
Don’t feel bad about yourself! (There I go again, just stating the obvious that isn’t so easily fixed)
The first step is acknowledging that there is a problem. You can’t fix problems if you didn’t know they existed in the first place.
Once we have established a ground for our problems, the next step is to pray for the strength to overcome them.
This takes willpower and a huge amount of God. The thing is, we can’t do anything without God. It’s just not possible. God should be our power source for every single thing that we do. It doesn’t matter the situation, it doesn’t matter how strong we think we are, if we do not have Jesus.. we have nothing!
It’s like a math equation.
So yes, the first step is to pray.
The second step is to read the word.
The word is God. The word is living. The word is life. It is like water, we need it to survive. We need the word to stay on track. Without it, how are we going to be prepared to face life’s trials? There are many trials in life, we need a reference that keeps us on track when we start to waver on what the truth is.
The truth is the word. The word is truth.
I read the bible every morning. It’s not for “looks”. It’s not so that I can join this generation in posting our “accomplishments” of bible reading on Instagram. Come on ladies! Our bible reading is our quiet time with God, we do not need to post pictures of it to receive a couple pats on the back.
Back to my original statement: I read the bible every morning.
The reason why I do this is because I like to start each morning on the “right side of the bed”. When I am reading the bible, the Holy Spirit points out exactly what He wants me to see. It’s crazy, really. He shows me things that are going to relate to my day, sometimes I am not aware of it and other times I stop dead in my tracks because the situation I just experienced is exactly like what I read that morning.
Right at that moment I can choose to act in the way I read in the bible or I can choose to act with an earthy thinking. If I would not have read the bible that morning, I would more have likely chosen to act out in an earthly manner because I did not equipt myself for the day. Of course, I have the Holy Spirit so maybe I still would choose to act right in the given situation but ultimately it’s my free will and I don’t want to take any chances.
Here’s an example that happened today:
This morning I picked up my bible again after a week or so of neglect. I was feeling very convicted so I set everything aside and read the word. One passage really stuck out at me for absolutely no reason and it was Matthew 22:41-46
—While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”
“The son of David,” they replied.
43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,
44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.”’[a]
45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions. —
I found it weird that this verse in particular was sticking out to me. Usually it’s something a little more… inspirational.
Later that day I did my usual routine of listening to a podcast episode while cleaning the kitchen. I usually listen to ones like Inspired to Action or Young Wifes Guide but today I was feeling a little different so I decided to try and listen to a podcast from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. I have tried to listen to Wayne’s podcast for about a month now (off and on) but it just was not working for me! For the life of me I could NOT get his podcasts to load on my phone. I still have no idea why.
Anyways, I tried his podcast again today and guess what, it worked! And guess what it was about– Matthew 22:41-46!
Goose bumps overload!
So to summarize, we need to 1) pray and 2) read the word in order to help equipt us for jumping off that spiritual fence.
The third thing we need is to surround ourselves with people, places, and things that will help keep us in the place that we need to be.
I love music! I went to school for music because I love it so much. I have studied music and how it affects the human mind. Music affects our behavior and thinking almost instantly.
When you’re driving, which genre makes you feel more road rage: 50’s pop music or heavy medal?
When you’re at a dance, which song is going to make you want to dance more: The YMCA or Lovin You by Minnie Riperton? I think the only way you’d find Lovin You a good dance song is if it’s you’re ummm wedding dance song or if you’re a contemporary dancer.
Does the Jeopardy theme song make you think of time ticking? Does the Jaws theme song make you think of sharks? Does Amazing Grace make you think of God’s grace?
When we listen to music we picture images in our brains that we associate with that type of music. If we are listening to angry music we are more likely to become angry. If we listen to Christian music we are more likely to be thinking with a godly mind.
Surrounding yourself with decent people is just like listening to decent music. If we hang around with a group of smokers, we are more likely to become a smoker. If we hang around people who swear, we are more likely to say “swearing is okay”. If we hang around with people who believe in recycling and saving the world, we are more likely to have that belief. If we hang around musicians, we are more inclined to play with the idea of taking on an instrument.
You don’t have to believe me though, believe the word. Here’s a couple of verses
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” — 1 Corinthians 15:33
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.– Proverbs 13:20
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.– Romans 12:2
God is well aware of the fact that as people without Jesus, we are weak. We give in to earthly things! We need Jesus. We need to pray. We need the Word. We need to surround ourselves with light and not darkness.
Seeking out people who are further in their spiritual journey than ourselves is also a great way to help. This gives the other person a chance to bring someone closer to God and it gives us a chance to humble ourselves and seek wisdom. I suppose this person would be called a mentor but I think it could be a friend, relative, or counselor– depending on our situation. Just someone who is further along in their journey, is a believer, and is a genuinely uplifting person.
I have two people who I really like to call when I am struggling with something spiritually and 97% of the time I feel much more encouraged after that phone call.
So, now that you have identified the fact that you are on the fence, how are you going to get down? Hopefully your descent involves meaningful prayer, the word, and positive influences.
Please feel free to comment me if you have more questions about Jesus and how you can take the next steps in your faith!