We live in a world with unlimited interests and options to pour our focus into. The real challenge comes when we must identify ourselves as becoming more interested in the worldly things than our Christian duty and relationship with God. It is not wrong for a Christian woman to be interested in becoming a makeup artist, just as it is not wrong for a man to be committed to a sport. We can see fantasy type movies (trust me, Harry Potter marathon weekends are an event in my household); we must be aware of when these things become more than an entertainment or interest. The real test and strength comes when you recognize something that challenges or compromises your relationship with God.
As Christians it can be easy to put walls up around everything from the world and name it as bad. But what do we accomplish from this? How do we raise children that will be able to serve in the world without knowing what is out there or preparing them? How can you relate to the souls who have not been saved if they are so foreign you know nothing about how to begin communicating with them? How can we live the enjoyable life God intended for us if we do not understand the world around us? To say every book written as fiction is not to be read because it is evil can be likened to claiming you will not travel anywhere in the world because there is so much work to do in your own backyard. God has not called us to live a sheltered life. God has called us to go out into the world to share His love with the world, and to remain in Him.
As Christians, we run the risk of judging things in the world and staying separate from them when we ought to be asking God for His strength as we approach with a smile.
I read a quote the other day that challenged the reader to put someone on your prayer list when you find yourself judging them. This concept of seeing with love first is significantly difficult for me at times because I am naturally skeptical. However, I have seen through countless examples the importance of looking beyond the initial and listening to God in my ear instead. Each person on this earth is His child, and we are charged with the responsibility of sharing His love so they may know Him. What a difference it would make if I could see each person I encounter as His child, loving them with an ounce of the love He has for me!
How do deal with all of this? How do we safeguard our hearts to be in the world but not of it, while also maintaining an open enough look at the world to be able to love the people in it? This balancing act truly is impossible without God’s presence in our hearts and minds continually guiding and protecting us. It can be frustrating and uncomfortable entering into areas that you have viewed as dirty or messy previously, only to now go out as a missionary into that very same place to share God’s light. The only real way to do all this and be effective without compromising ourselves is to know God and have His grace on us.
Below I have shared some of the inspiration I draw on when I am feeling the world’s pull at me, or I feel myself struggling to love in the way I know I should:
Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
John 17:14-15 “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”
Titus 3:1-8 “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” There is an entire message to be found in this section of Titus that you can read about here.