"What a waste of time."
"Do you really have to put Jesus in everything?"
"He's not going to understand that."
"He's going to get sick of talking about God all of the time. You need to tone it down."
Now, let me keep it real, here. Yes, some of these comments were said to me. But most of them were versions of comments I had heard in the past. And one or two, I had even said myself (gasp!) Those judgmental, critical words always have a way of coming back to get us, don't they?
In the moment, though, I didn't try to separate reality from perception or past. I choked down feelings of bitterness, confusion, and doubt and said, simply, to myself, "No. Those are lies." Whether they were lies said to me, lies I had heard before, or lies I had stated in the past, they were still lies. So... No.
No- this is not a waste of time. I am spending time with my son.
No- I refuse to leave Jesus out of any part of my life.
No- he may not understand it this year (actually, I can say with confidence that he did not) but I am building a relationship with my son where we can speak about faith and have fun while doing so.
No- he will not get sick of talking about God all of the time. If you know Jesus like I do, you don't "get sick" of Him. He only increases while I decrease.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
So really, it doesn't matter who the person is, if their opinion doesn't line up with God's, they lose. End of discussion. But that doesn't mean it is easy. In fact, it is very, very hard. It is so difficult to say to someone who means really well, "sorry, but God has revealed something different to me" or "that is not what the Bible teaches". It can be hurtful. It can be so very uncomfortable. But if said in love, you have spoken wisely. For me, this is still a work in process. A long-time work in progress. But, progress!
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5: 3 (ESV)
And they aren't! God's commands are not burdensome. But when our flesh, our preconceptions, our culture, and the people around us get involved, it can get a little more difficult to follow those commandments. We become burdened when we begin to contemplate compromise; when we begin thinking about what we are losing, instead of what we are gaining, by following God's commands. I think John picks up on this hesitation, too, because he adds:
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
1 John 5: 4 (ESV)
I think this verse is important to take in context with the first, and it is really what struck me while I was reading. God's commands are not burdensome, because by following Him and loving Him we are born of him, and it is this faith that overcomes the world.
Following God's commandments is the very best way, and by our faith, we are given victory to overcome the world. That means that God's ways are the very best ways. No matter what. They are perfect and victorious. So it is always worth it to push through the barriers of culture, opinions, and people to follow the commandments of God. They promise victory and life.
In a busy culture that preaches "tolerance" and "acceptance", it can sometimes be very easy to compromise God's commandments to appease man, or to become more comfortable. But understand that compromising God's commandments has consequences. By following his commandments we overcome the world. When we compromise, we begin losing this victory. Cause and effect. Although compromise may be easier at first, the burdens in the long run could be crushing.
Which is easier: forgiveness or hate?
Which is easier: to give into the temper tantrum or leave the grocery store?
Which is easier: to stay and watch the movie with your friends or leave because the content of the movie is sinful?
Which is easier: to disrespect your spouse or speak in love?
If the option is easiest, it doesn't mean it is best. We, myself included, have to determine to look beyond the moment and at the big picture. Because one little "easy" moment or decision can quickly become five, ten, a habit, a lifetime, a legacy. Cause and effect. Truth and consequences. As a believer of God's word, the Christian must push past the expectations of the world and be willing to be unusual, peculiar, and even ridiculed for the sake of the cross, and for the sake of our own well-being.
So the struggle for me now is, not only do I need boldness and grace to follow God's commandments, but I also need God's truth to shine on my life and reveal areas where I may still be deceived. Because in that moment at the resurrection garden, I didn't even know those remarks were lies until the Holy Spirit revealed it to my heart. I was obviously deceived when I had said some of those things in the past. Oh, how I value truth. Truth brings peace to my heart. Speak what is true to me, Holy Spirit.
Thank you for your Word and the truth that it speaks to my heart. Please give me boldness and grace to follow your commands, and give me the wisdom to make the choices for my family and relationships that line up with your word. I ask today that you shine the light of truth in my life, and reveal areas where I am not following your commands, and help me in these areas. Thank you for your love, grace, and faithfulness.
In Jesus's Name,