Do you ever look at the world around you and feel like you don’t belong? The landscape of America has changed vastly over the past century. In some ways this has been for the good, but in others it feels like we have lost our way. The Civil Rights and Women’s movements were necessary to bring attention to areas of oppression and correct mistakes of the past. The problem is where do we draw the line because we can’t seem to stop fighting. Do we when or ever how to stop?
The things we value most is our individuality and our freedom. We don’t like to be told what to do by anyone because we have the right to live our lives as we see fit. But at what cost? We can either focus on the individual or we can focus on the community. We can’t do both. When we are focused on our own individual freedoms we inevitably undermine the needs of the community. Yet, a focus on the community always comes at the cost of some personal freedoms. What’s really worth fighting for?
Jesus tells us that those who live by the sword die by the sword (Matthew 26:52). As Christians we are called to live in a way contrary to the rest of the world. We are supposed to fight hate and injustice with love. It’s clear that most people, including many Christians, are not living by this standard. It’s hard living in a world without belonging to the world.
They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.John 17:16-18
As Christians, Jesus asks us to live in contradiction to the values of those around us. We are not to seek justice in this world, for justice is God’s alone. Instead, we are to be living examples of his mercy and grace.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.Matthew 5:38-45
Living for Christ means that we voluntarily lay down our arms and quiet our tongues. As strangers in a strange land, we should expect that others will take advantage of us, hurt us, reject us, or hate us. This should be no surprise because the world did the same to Jesus.
I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.John 13:15-17
We need to closely evaluate what we think, say, and do. Are we really exhibiting Christ-like behavior? Do others see the love of Christ within us, or are we following the ways of the world? If we are truly following Christ the world may feel like a lonely place. We may feel like outcasts among those whose priorities differ from our own. But we are not alone. There are other Christian believers who are experiencing the same thing. This demonstrates the importance of encouragement through Christian fellowship.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.Hebrews 10:24-25
We may feel like strangers in a strange land sometimes because this is not our home. Fellowship with others who share our beliefs reminds us that we are not alone. This encouragement provides strength, which allows us to continue running this race with endurance.