At a family gathering a few years ago, I couldn't help overhearing a discussion between my son, John, and a friend of the family. They were talking about a movie that was currently in the theaters, and that had a soundtrack of popular songs. When my son voiced his disapproval of the album because one of the song titles was an obscenity, I heard this friend exclaim, "Lighten up, John!" What was this friend saying to my son? She was basically saying, "C'mon, John, stop being so serious--and start thinking the way the rest of us do!"
Why do some folks--Christians and non-Christians alike--get so indignant when someone like John takes a stand against the popular culture? It makes them feel uncomfortable. It's like shining a spotlight on their questionable behavior for all the world to see. Jesus said that He wanted His followers to be salt and light to the world around them. (Matthew 5:13-16) Why? Because it's the only way we can make a real difference for God on this earth. The apostle Paul wrote: "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them." (Ephesians 5:11 NIV) Naturally, we can use words to expose the sin around us, but there's an even better way. We can expose the works of darkness by our actions. There's an old saying that goes like this: "People may not believe what you say, but they'll believe what you DO!" When mere words don't have an impact on the people around us, our Christlike behavior often can. In the same passage of Scripture, Paul goes on to say: "But when the light shines on them, it becomes clear how evil these things are. And where your light shines, it will expose their evil deeds." (Ephesians 5:13-14 NLT) Every time that you and I "go along with the flow" of popular culture, our light for Christ dims, and we lose an opportunity to draw others to Him. That's one reason why Paul continues with, "Be very careful then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV)
The following verse gets to the heart of the matter: "Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is." (Ephesians 5:17 NIV) The only way we're going to be able to live a life that's pleasing to God, and one that will impact others for His kingdom, is to have a working knowledge of His Word. How did John know that the profane song title on that movie soundtrack was offensive to God? Because he was familiar with the Scripture that says: "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving." (Ephesians 5:3-4 NIV) John didn't just have head knowledge of these verses, but he was applying them to his life and walking them out, instead of just talking about them. And people take notice. When John's at work and everyone around him is cursing and blaspheming, he refuses to join in. He doesn't hit people over the head with his Bible, but he lets his light shine through his words and actions. And he stands out in a crowd. Yes, there's a price to be paid when we live our lives for God. And there are untold sacrifices that we have to make daily. But the rewards far outweigh them all. Just ask John. Because of his faithfulness, the Lord is using him to touch the lives of millions of people each year for His glory. And if you were to ask my son, he'd tell you that he wouldn't want to live any other way. The next time you take a bold stand for the Lord, and someone says to you, "Lighten up!"--don't forget that that's your cue to let your light shine!
Prayer: Lord, give me the strength, the wisdom, and the courage I need to "go against the flow" of our worldly popular culture. Teach me how to devote myself to You and Your Word, and to apply Your principles to my life, so I can make a real difference for You. Thank You that as I take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way, You will use me to touch and change the lives of multitudes!
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