Growing up in an African household instilled in me an appreciation for communal living. Few things were ever really ‘mine’. As with most families would hand clothes down to generations in our homes. We could even share each other’s prescriptions sometimes if one developed symptoms previously seen in another!
The Case for Truth
It is no surprise then to see a similar mentality work out in the fabric of the larger society. More often than not, we do things in the same spirit as those around us. Unfortunately, for Christians, this has had the negative implication that our standard has shifted from the scriptures to the actions of men. Such is especially the case with young believers — convictions aren’t shared because we read from the scriptures together, but because we take cues from each other, often unwisely.
The age we live in is one where truth is largely relativized. Consequently, anyone who dares to call out falsehood in another will come under attack over ‘intolerance’. Moreover, since in many a young person exists an insatiable desire to be recognized and adored courtesy of social media, few of us would ever really stand by a truth that is hated in the world. But the scriptures do clarify that the world will always contradict that which is true; those of the world speak from the world and listen to it (1 John 4:5), we don’t.
We Christians, however, are of God, and so speak godly things, and whoever is not from God does not listen to us (1 John 4:6). There has always been a war raging between good and evil in this world, which will not cease until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus told his disciples that he did not come to bring peace to this world but a sword (Matthew 10:34). A fool’s errand then it would be if we attempted to reconcile the world and our faith; it is mission impossible. As Christians, we are called to be different, set apart for God (2 Corinthians 6:17). We must live as if to show that righteousness has no fellowship with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14).
The ideologies that the world advocates for do not necessarily align with the principles of the faith we affirm. They have “an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion…, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (Colossians 2:23). Every attempt to marry the world with the faith has throughout history led to tampering with the truth of the word of God, something we are cautioned against (2 Corinthians 4:2). To the believer, God’s word must only remain the truth given for our sanctification (John 17:17) and nothing less.
The World Calls Evil Good
Many today identify as Christians while are accepting of homosexuality. Many others are indifferent. There is a general toning down of scriptural passages (consider 1 Timothy 1:10 and Leviticus 20:13, for example) that outrightly condemn homosexuality as a sin.
While Scripture sounds clear warnings against fornication and adultery (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; Ephesians 5:3), these sins have regrettably become commonplace in the household of faith. While it should be shameful among believers to practice such immorality, the opposite (upholding purity) has instead become what is frowned upon in certain circles of believers as outdated.
How about the ease with which many of us lie these days? We commonly lie about our location, for example. But we belong to one another and should therefore only speak truth to each other (Ephesians 4:25). If we have put off the old self with its practices, we should not lie to one another (Colossians 3:9), whether the lie should seem great or small.
And though the world should embrace curse words as though communication were impossible without them, the charge to us is never to let such corrupting talk come out of our mouths (Ephesians 4:29, 5:4). If we set our thoughts (as is fitting of those who are redeemed) on “whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable…” (Philippians 4:8), we will speak only such to those around us.
Though Everyone Around You Should Fall
The temptation to go with the tide, doing what is popular and largely acceptable, ever beckons. But we remain ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), and individually so. We will each give an account of how we lived our lives here on earth (2 Corinthians 5:10). That we did anything because another did it will not excuse any of us from judgment. We will each receive what our deeds are due, whether good or evil.
Examine yourself, therefore, to see whether you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Being different and making decisions against this world’s norm can be difficult, but whoever does not take up their cross and follow Christ is not worthy of him (Matthew 10:38). Yes, you may lose much, perhaps even your life, but a life lost on account of Christ is a life gained (Matthew 10:39).
Should ever an occasion present where you are forced to choose between the truth of the Bible and the ways of the world, I pray your response will be as Peter’s when all but a few deserted the Savior: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…” (John 6:68).
Indeed when Christ is enthroned in the heart as God alone, with no idol besides him, we will stand for his truth, even when we do so alone.