BEING LIKE OUR NEIGHBORS


Here’s a really good one from Lee. -anita

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Are we a people who live life in cycles? Does your life operate cyclically? What I mean by that is this: In your walk with the Lord do you win a little battle today and tomorrow fall flat on your face? Today, for example, you spent time praying with someone who was hurting badly and brought them some needed consolation. But tomorrow, someone cut you off in traffic and you curse them and their ancestors for five generations!

Maybe the above doesn’t describe you, but I know for a fact it describes me. In an article I read on the book of Judges, Dr. R.C. Sproul talks about the cycles repeated over and over in Judges by the people of God. Sproul cites this telltale phrase in Judges: “The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” Then, Sproul notes, “…each time we read that phrase in the book of Judges, we see that God would raise up enemies of Israel…as tools of chastisement….” The people would suffer for a period then cry out to God and He would rescue them, often using one of the Judges from whom this book takes its name. And so the cycle would go, again and again. It sounds rather like my own life!

But the cycles illustrated here in Judges, and maybe even in our own lives, isn’t the most important point here. Sproul asks the question: what provoked the forsaking of God during the time of Judges by the people. His answer: “… the great desire to be like their neighbors.” When applied to our personal lives, we might characterize this phenomenon as being like the world or of the world.

I truly like where Dr. Sproul takes this thought then. He concludes that, while God had called His people to nonconformity, to be holy and to flee from idolatry, “…that was unpopular in those days.” Even more to the point, he says, “And without a doubt, it’s unpopular today, as well.” Sproul was applying this primarily to the modern church, but I would suggest it applies to the lives of individuals, also. I believe it applies very much to me. And, of course, we are the church!

I struggle with nonconformity; I always want to fit in, to be like the others, to be accepted. It takes a lot of courage to buck the trend, to be different. To be God’s man no matter what. And bucking the trend no doubt will cost you some friends, and maybe even some family. It’s hard sometimes to stand for God. And, I’m sad to say, there are too often times when I fail to do so. And then, maybe later, when I’m alone, I often rue the fact that I in my cowardice (and desire to be liked by others) I should have done this or said that but didn’t.

Yet, Dr. Sproul served to remind me of an important truth. Like the ancient Israelites, God loves us and forgives us when we falter. I sometimes sorely disappoint myself and begin to question my own faith when I fail to stand up for God and do/say the right thing. And sometimes there are consequences to my inaction. But, according to Sproul, “Judgment begins at the house of God, but it is a judgment that is disciplinary, not destructive. It’s designed to move us to repentance and faithfulness.” And so I keep trying to be faithful. To do the right thing no matter the cost. Easy to say; hard to do!

Lee Pierce

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