Is the World Comfortable with You?

Posted: March 5, 2007 in Bible Study, Biblical Topics, Christ, Christianity, Religion, Spiritual Struggle, Virtues

Begin by asking yourself the question, how comfortable is the world with me? Let’s say you grade your response on a scale of 1 – 10 (ten indicating the highest level of comfort)- so go ahead and answer the question.

Now that you’ve answered, let me empathize with you. I found this question difficult when I first confronted it last year. Can’t a Christian be liked? What is wrong with people outside the church being comfortable around me? I am a pretty non-confrontational, go with the flow kind of guy- so isn’t it my nature? Those are just some of the responses I struggled with.

It wasn’t until I grasped WHY many Christians find themselves in a comfortable relationship with the world that I felt convicted that my Christian lifestyle was incomplete, watered down, and for the most part fruitless. In this post I want to walk you through the steps that brought me to the above conclusion.

First, what is our role in this world? As Christians what are we expected to do? It begins by implementing spiritual discipline in our own lives.

“This is love for God: to obey his commands.” 1 John 5:3

“If we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.” 1 Corinthians 11:31.

As Christians- saved from our sins but painfully aware of sin- it is all too easy to look down our noses at others with a hypocritical judgmental attitude. But when you make judgments on others that also condemn you, you bear a false witness to God and your testimony become worthless- or worse it becomes a negative influence keeping people away from Christ. So as a Christian your life should eventually become a relatively moral and good life.  Such a life displays to God your love and commitment, and it makes the world take pause and be amazed at what you have become.

Beyond cleaning up our own lives Christ also expects us to testify to His glory.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matt. 28:19-20.

We are expected to spread God’s word throughout our neighborhoods, our country, and then throughout the world. We should- to slightly alter and steal a slogan- act locally AND globally. When we attempt to act globally that can mean missionary work, sending bibles and supplies, sending letters to fellow Christians suffering for Christ, or praying for your Christian brothers throughout the world. But where we encounter the greatest level of discomfort is not when we help our brother’s abroad, but instead when we work for Christ in our respective neighborhoods.

Why is it so hard to speak for Christ where we are? To answer the question just juxtapose the world’s values with those of God.

The World says, “there are many paths to God (if he even exists).

God tells us, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6.

The World says, “it is wrong to judge anyone, period!”

God tells us “The spiritual man makes judgments about all things…” 1 Corinthians 2:15 [Don’t forget Paul repeatedly admonished church members to “distinguish good from evil.”]

As Christians we are called to go into the world and deliver the Gospel’s message that all man is fallen, in need of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice. Can you remember a time before you were saved? How uncomfortable were you when you first heard that message? It is a the height of discomfort when you call someone’s attention to their sins and their need for Christ- some people get downright angry with you.

Often people who walk a serious and committed Christian lifestyle make those around them uncomfortable without even saying a word. For example, let’s says you work in an environment where curse words frequently escape the lips of your colleagues. If you have made your walk clearly known to your coworkers they will often respect that. Moreover, your coworkers, at least in your presence, will be convicted of their error and tame their tongues. It is a unsettling moment for them since it reminds them that the rest of their life is being spent in ungodly pursuits- profuse profane language being just one example.

Sometimes we are called to directly convict those in the world of their sin. But many in the world would tell us, “Woooo, wait a minute. Why are you judging anyone?”

But to claim that we are not capable of judging (discerning godly from ungodly behavior) is a point of view that exists only to make the world more comfortable with us. For as long as we are content to sit in church pews and express our religion within the confines of the church’s four walls the world will accept us. However, when we stand on street corners, and pronounce the Gospel message, many in the world will be troubled by our actions.

Read the following story and judge for yourself if it is right for a Godly man to point out another man’s ungodly behavior:

“They halted in front of it, and the negroes, throwing themselves upon the grass, were taken, two by two, into the shop, and their fetters exchanged for those which were easier to wear. In the village was a minister, a true gospel preacher, whose heart was wrung by the scenes which almost daily passed before his eyes on this great thoroughfare. As he glanced from his window in the hot noon, and saw the slaves lying there looking so spent and worn, with the chains about their ankles, his whole soul was moved, and, coming out of his house, he hastily crossed the road to where the speculator was sitting under a tree, and began to expostulate with him, and to set before him the enormity of the traffic in which he was engaged.

“What you say is all true, sir,” said Leland; “but I was raised in the business, and if I don’t take ’em down, somebody else will. I assure you I treat ’em well. I drive the best gangs that go into Alabama. There’s a proof of what I say, sir; their irons were too heavy for comfort, and, at considerable expense to myself, I’m having lighter ones made for ’em.”

“I see you’re a kind-hearted man, and the last one that should be in a trade like this– driving men and women in chains through the country like so many cattle. You believe they have souls, don’t you?”

“Souls? I sometimes think their souls are a great deal bigger than ours. There’s that woman, Sally, leaning against the tree yonder–she’s got more soul than a dozen of some white women I know.”

“And yet you can buy and sell them as if they were blocks of wood! I tell you, you are committing a fearful crime. God’s word is against you, and the judgment day will be against you, when you stand there with them to give an account of your lives.”

“Bless me, sir, no, minister ever talked so to me before. I had a good many such thoughts myself; last year, after having a great fuss at the sale of one of my gangs, so I wont to my minister in Alabama and asked him what he thought about it? ‘O,’ said he, ‘these are unavoidable evils, and the world is full of them every where. There’s no doubt that slavery is a divine institution, and if you do the best you can, you needn’t give yourself any trouble about the matter.’ I was quieted for the time, but ever since I bought Sally, I’ve been thinking the same things again; and I believe you’re right.” A Narrative of the Slave-life and Purchase of the Mother of Rev. Isaac Williams, of Detroit, Michigan.

Should the minister have been hamstrung by the world’s familiar bromide not to judge others? No. The minister judged righteously based on his knowledge of God’s word and confronted this man with his sin. He acted rightly and according to God’s will.

Lastly, how do we know the world will often be uncomfortable with us? Christ told us so.

“You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me.” Luke 21:16-17.

“The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.” John 7:7.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-19.

The world will hate us. But it won’t hate us because of who we are, but because of who we represent. They hate Christ because he (and his actions) testify that the desires and actions of this world are evil and sinful. Since the world doesn’t hate us directly, it is easy to clam up and keep Christ inside. When we don’t speak about Christ everyone is comfortable, but when we mention Christ sometimes the whole room goes silent.

Perhaps we would all act differently if God spoke to us directly, like Ezekiel, and said:

“When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.” Ezekiel 3:18-19.

But we face this everyday. Friends, colleagues, and neighbors who don’t know God- who walk the path of destruction. Yet we watch them wander off into oblivion too afraid to speak up and warn them. I myself suffer from this, and pray for God to give me the strength to speak through discomfort and bring His word into the lives of my friends and neighbors so they might share in our wondrous inheritance.

May God bless and keep you all.

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Comments
  1. breederx says:

    Wow this is so true! What a powerful post! God bless you!

  2. mcalmond says:

    A Good post totaltransformation.

    What comes to mind is simply that we are not to be friends with the world, to be in it, yes, but of it, any longer. We are no longer citizens of this world and our home is not here. Therefore, as aliens in a fallen world, we should be uncomfortable, even as the world should be uncomfortable with us, if we are genuinely the Lord’s.

    Thank you for the good post.

    Blessings in Christ Jesus!

  3. timbob says:

    A post that should cause all of us to examine ourselves. I took a brief nap after getting the kids on the bus this morning and had a very brief dream. It wasn’t actually a dream, it was more like a “revelation” if you will. Remember the rich man in hell desiring a bit of water? The thought in my mind was that our pyhsical bodies are about 75% liquid. There’s absolutely no liquid in hell and a soul cannot simply cease to be. Utter dryness with no hope of ever finding relief. We all need to be diligent about the task at hand, myself included. Another challenging post and we need to be challenged.

  4. inhisgrace says:

    sometimes i think it’s a very thin line between judging and being discerning. we have no right to judge pre-believers because they simply don’t have the light in them to discern true right from wrong based on His word.

    a good post for me to chew on. thank you!

  5. Inhisgrade, you are very correct. I am glad it is a thin line because it keeps me on my toes. I think the best way to approach that line is as follows. If you carry any pretension to being “better than” that person you are being judgmental. However, if you approach them knowing your own position and implore them to change their ways to conform to those of God, then you are in line with God’s word and discerning.

  6. inhisgrace says:

    got this from Charles Swindoll’s Simple Faith and love how he broke down Jesus’s sermon on judgment. this is why we ought not to judge:

    – we never know all the facts.
    – we are unable to read another’s motive.
    – we are prejudiced people, never completely objective.
    – we put ourselves in a position we are not qualified to fill…namely, we play God.

    this might be a good guideline to go by and watch ourselves as we try to discern discernment and judgment 🙂

  7. However grace, let’s apply those to my example of the pastor and the slave trader.

    “we never know all the facts.”
    Of course he didn’t know if this man was merely a hireling or the actual trade. Yet he bravely confronted him with his sin. Yes this man hated what he did deep down inside, and he told himself he HAD to do it in order to stay afloat financially. But does this excuse his actions or make the pastor’s actions judgmental and wrong?

    “we are unable to read another’s motive.”
    We have the context to discern such a motive from. If we are wrong we may apologize. But should this pastor had held his tongue because it was possible he was bringing these slaves to freedom?

    “we are prejudiced people, never completely objective.”
    Certainly we are, but such would mitigate against making any decision at any time.

    “we put ourselves in a position we are not qualified to fill…namely, we play God.”
    This is true with regards to final salvation vs. condemnation. But in discerning evil actions from good we have God’s word and his example to live by- and discern by.

    The above factors seem very likely to paralyze a Christian into inaction in the face of grave error on the part of our friends and neighbors who desperately need salvation.

  8. Your post today is confirmation of all God has been speaking to me. Thank you so much for “backing Him up”. As always, you are an encouragement to me. (Oh, and way to go on the weight loss!)

    Blessings,
    Sherri

  9. markrmorris2 says:

    I fear that they too frequently hate me with justification than without. The minister in your story did not make his judgement A. as his lead in to conversation B. on his own authority. I think if we were as willing to set awhile with some of these people Rather than getting in a huff when they don’t immediately see the truth of what we say we might be more likely to have responses like this one.

  10. dadinaught6 says:

    good information to think about.
    there is also a fine line between judging and being judgemental. Judging between acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior is encouraged. Being judgemental of people isn’t. Good thoughts on the blog and comments. I enjoyed it.

  11. code6 says:

    When I first read the question, “how comfortable is the world with me?” I shuddered b/c I’m hated. I’ve been kicked down for my morals and the ethics I hold. I’ve been discriminated against. And yet sometimes, I feel like the oddest people are attracted to me. Go figure. Many times, we don’t even have to say anything and just the presence of God makes people want to back away.

    Anyways, thanks for visiting my blog. President Gerald Ford played a very significant part in my life.

  12. cumby says:

    Great question!

    I would have to say that people are uncomfortable with me, even in my house, but part of that is my lack of social skills. 😳

    People in sin should be uncomfortable around those who carry the Holy Spirit inside of them. But it is the presence of the Spirit who convicts of sin, not the person.

  13. elbesino says:

    Once again, an excellent teaching. Keep it up!

  14. imparare says:

    Interesting comments.. 😀

  15. Scotti says:

    Great post. So blessed that you re-posted it.

    May the Lord Jesus Christ be with you always,
    Scotti

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