Living in this world today can be so difficult and stressful. There seems to be so many demands, things to keep up with, and we are always on the go. It can be overwhelming sometimes. People especially can be difficult, and no one is immune from that. We find ourselves trying to fit in with the current styles and cultural trends. Sometimes it’s hard to live out the Christian life in a society that doesn’t always agree with our beliefs. Sometimes we might find ourselves in certain situations where we might wind up doing one thing, but as a Christian, we know that we need to make a different decision. It can be hard when you have the worldly influence around you all the time.
Being a Christian in this world can be hard, can be discouraging, and can really test your faith. Being a Christian is difficult because we are now swimming upstream, against the current of the world around us. I love the verse in John 16:33 (KJV) “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
If Christians today are living the way they are supposed to, you will be persecuted and stereotyped. People may think you are a “Bible-thumper” or arrogant or have a holier than thou attitude. You also might be labeled as boring if you decide to not follow the crowd that loves to have a great time at the local bar. I love to have a great time, but not the way the world likes to have a great time, and my life is far from boring. In Romans 12:2 (NKJV), it says “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” This means as Christians, we are not to be like the world – we are to be different. But how hard is it to be a Christian in a non-Christian world? What can we do?
The first thing we can do is pray. Prayer is such a privilege that most neglect to do. God wants to hear from his children. He wants you to come to him. Sometimes we get bogged down with life and circumstances, and praying can ease that burden you feel. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Make the time to pray as much as you can. Pray for your enemies. Pray for those that persecute you. Pray for those that are lost. Pray for our culture and the decline of America’s morals. Pray for guidance and strength. Prayer is one way to be a Christian in a non-Christian world.
The second thing you can do is have loving kindness. I know that is hard to do, but it is a command by God in Mark 12:30-31 (NKJV): “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” One of the hardest things to do is pray for those who persecute us or do mean things. We must do this if we are going to be pleasing to God. We must treat people how we would want to be treated. How we treat others must be rooted in who we are and whose we are. Having loving kindness is a way to be a Christian in a non-Christian world.
The next thing we can do is to lead by example. We live in a world of followers. Set the example to where people want to know why you are so different. Be that shining light that this world so desperately needs. In Matthew 5:16, it says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” As my husband said in his sermon a couple of weeks ago, we must be the light in a dark place. I love that. When people see why we are different from the world, maybe we can lead them to Christ. Are people shocked to know you are a Christian? I have heard several waiter and waitress friends tell me that they hate the Sunday crowd the most. They said they are the rudest people when they come to eat after church services. This should not be so! Our attitude is very important. Christians are marked people. The world is watching. Are you leading by example? If not, why not? Leading by example is a way to be a Christian in a non-Christian world.
Another attribute we should have is patience. I know this world is so fast-paced. We are so used to having things right now. People are in such a hurry that they have forgotten to slow down and be courteous. We have lost our patience with people, and it is getting worse every day. We all must strive to have patience with others. In Galatians 5:22, it says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” I know it can be difficult, but to make it in a world of “it’s all about me” and “right now”, patience is something that we need to pray about every day. Some days, you just need to take a deep breath in and a big breath out. Slow down, be patient. Take a minute and just take in the beauty we overlook. Learning patience can help us be a Christian in a non-Christian world.
As Christians, we can sometimes be scared of being discriminated against or mocked because of our faith. However, my experience has taught me that there is nothing to fear. We must also understand that being in the world, but not of it, is necessary if we are to be a light to those who are in spiritual darkness. We are to live in such a way that those outside the faith see our good deeds and our manner and know that there is something “different” about us. Christians who make every effort to live, think, and act like those who do not know Christ do Him a great disservice.
Then we have that very strong passage in I John 2:15-17: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world…For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” We can be a Christian in a non-Christian world – it’s up to us if we want to.