Life is not easy. Many times it may feel as though you’re constantly dodging bullets. Sometimes you may get hit with a bullet in the form of financial distress, depression, slander, inequality and even death, and they are all enough to shake your foundation in Christ… if you allow it.
Recently, I had lunch with a few family members. There was the usual catching up session, plentiful dishes full of tasty homecooked food, and much laughter. But there was something else that I didn’t like: the gossiping and constant judgment of those who were not present. Some time ago, I would have been the one sitting with them and judging those relatives right along with them, but thankfully the LORD dealt with me concerning this. So I kept my distance and did not take part. Perhaps you’re asking yourself why I didn’t tell them that what they were doing was wrong? The simple reason is that the women were all elders (except one) in the family and do not take lightly to anyone younger than them saying anything against what they are talking about. They definitely knew that I did not like their topic of conversation, which is why I have been on the receiving end of much judgment in the past. Well, these women just kept on going on and on about our other relatives, picking out every problem and judging them for it. My spirit was so troubled by it, that I walked away and put my earphones on to listen to some praise music. I needed to drown out the ugliness of the conversation, and I got to thinking: how did I manage to be a part of such slanderous speech in the past? How did I continue to spew such ugly words and descriptions about other people? I did it under the guise of being ‘concerned’ about them, but truly, it was just an excuse to focus on the negative in someone else’s life rather than deal with the disappointments and rejections of my own life, as well as the ugliness that I allowed to multiply in my heart. Matthew 15:18 tells us that the words that we speak come from our hearts, and this defiles us.
There are so many things that we allow to dwell in our hearts, and they eventually come out in the form of words. These words are ones of negativity, doubt, self-beating, gossip, slander and so much more. This is normal for those who are of the world, but it is not normal for us as His people. Â So, the question is: how different are we from the world? Do we immediately become angry when things do not go our way? Do we seek revenge when someone has wronged us? Do we talk about others in an effort to elevate ourselves? We have to be honest with ourselves when we ask these questions because GOD cannot be fooled. Sometimes we think that we are alright. We are kind to people, we keep away from bad company, we watch our tongue… until something happens out of our control. Maybe you were standing in line for an extremely long time at some government office (in South Africa, we have many stories about the Department of Home Affairs as well as the licensing department!), and you’ve been there since 7 am in the morning, but now it’s 12:00 pm and it’s lunchtime for half of them. Which means that the line is only about to go slower. Well, this just gets you into a tizz, doesn’t it? You probably join in the conversation happening around you about how incompetent the government workers are, how they are clearly not qualified for the job that they do, and so on and so forth. I’ve been there and done that, but just because everyone else is mumbling and grumbling, doesn’t mean that we have to do it. Instead, we could be sharing the gospel with the person sitting next to us (yes, I know that at first, it may seem awkward and you might get some strange or angry looks) or showing a good attitude when everyone else is in a bad mood. You’d be amazed at how many people you can get to smile just by being a cheerful person. You actually attract people to you and then you can tell them that your joy is all thanks to Jesus.
Luke 6:27-28 tells us to love our enemies, to do good to those that hate us, bless those who curse us and pray for those that mistreat us. Whoa. Is that even possible, Jesus? You know what’s going to come next: all things are possible for those who believe (Jesus just dropped the mic on that one). It’s easier for us to love those who love us, to hate those that hate us, to bless those that bless us, to pray for those that we feel like praying for, and to utterly forget about those that mistreat us. It’s far easier, right? But then, what would make us different from the world? In the Old Testament, we know the whole ‘eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth’ thing, right? But Jesus turned that on its head. He came and spoke about living a life so different, and so weird, that people would need to just stop and take a look at us. Jesus said that we are the light and salt of the world, and in order to maintain our light and ‘saltiness’, we are going to have to be different. Oh, it certainly is not easy, but it sure is worth it.
I would like to invite you to take your walk with Christ to a whole different level by being abnormal in the world. Be extraordinary in a world of mundaneness. Be weird in a world where sin is normal. Embrace your role as a servant of the Most High, daughter of a King, son of the Holy of Holies, warrior of the Great I Am. Choose to set aside your feelings of inadequacy, the need to fit in and be accepted, and all your embarrassment to live your life GOD-led and not people/situation-led. We were promised joy, peace, love and everything else that GOD has to offer us, but that doesn’t mean that there will not be suffering and persecution. As Jesus suffered, so will we suffer, but it’s only for a moment in the light of eternity with Christ. Let GOD take control and transform you into someone that even you would never have thought to become.