Do you remember the childhood song, "I've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy?" Remember the verse, "Hide it under a bushel, NO! I'm gonna let it shine!"? I was reminded of this while reading to Jacob this week. We're reading Bartholomew's Passage (Yes, I know it's an Advent book, but we started it before Christmas and can't put it down until we're done....). Anyway, we read a section this week about the Essenes:
The Essenes thought that if they followed all their rules carefully, hid from the rest of the world, and spent their days in prayer and study, they would sit at the banquet table of Jehovah someday....
Yes, as Nathan has decided for himself, it is a very good thing to spend much time praying, and seeking God, and studying His Word. But Jesus told us to be a part of this world without allowing its temptations to lead us into selfishness. And why would he say that? Why not just separate ourselves and live godly lives apart from the rest of our community?
So that we can tell everyone else that God loves them, too!
That just brought to mind so many things....things that I've heard and seen in so many Christian circles. Why is it that Jesus could go eat with the tax collectors and visit with unbelievers, but we feel we have to shelter ourselves away from anything or anyone who could "taint" our religion? Seriously....this just gets me upset when I think about it. I've witnessed so many Christians in their tight knit circles, who are not willing to budge on any of their traditions, not willing to give the time of day to someone who might be slightly different from them, not willing to let anyone else in because they don't want to have an ungodly influence within their midst. But how is that Christian? It's more hurtful than anything. I've often been puzzled by this. How can we reach them if we don't go out of our circles, out into the thick of it all, out into the world? How can we truly be like Jesus if we can't do this? Worst of all, how will our children perceive Jesus and Christianity, if we don't teach them through example? If we shelter them and stifle them away from everything that is seemingly ungodly, how is this world ever going to be reached for Christ? I'm not saying we need to needlessly expose our children to harmful things, but I'm saying we shouldn't be afraid to reach out to our unbelieving neighbors and people we come in contact with, even people we might have to go out of our way to be a light to.
I recently heard a story about a woman who goes around to stripclubs, witnessing to the women who work there. Now I'm not saying that everyone should run to their nearest stripjoint, but she has a real ministry working with these women, and she has helped to bring many of them out of this lifestyle into true freedom. What a light she has in a very dark world....honestly, I had to search my heart to ask myself, "Could I be that strong of a light? Am I willing to go anywhere He asks me to go?"
I guess what I'm trying to say is to let God use you. Let him speak to your heart. Don't be so shut off by your traditions and maybe even the circles you associate with. Get out there, and be a light to those who desperately need to see that light. Don't stifle the light that God has given you by refusing to go out into the world. Don't push people away by the way you view them. Walk confidently out into that big, ugly, sometimes scary world, and get ready to put up a fight with the dark side. Be a light to those who desperately need Him.
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