One of the hardest parts about being a Christian for me is the balance between staying away from what’s bad and being available for what is good in the world. John 15:19 says, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, therefore the world hates you.” This doesn’t mean that literally every person who isn’t a Christian hates every person who is a Christian. But it does mean that sometimes we won’t fit in with the crowd. How do we handle this? Let’s think about three ways.
As Christians, we are a called out people. We’re different. We stand out. That’s how it should be, but that doesn’t make it easy.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light – 1 Peter 2:9
Anyone who chooses to follow God is set apart. We’re supposed to worship Him and show others how to find Him. That means our lives are going to look different than people who aren’t Christians. The people we spend time with are different.
Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33
Being a Christian does not mean we are perfect. It means we’re doing our best to keep our lives pure. If we are around people who use bad language, lie, or gossip, that can rub off on us. So we need to be careful who we are around. That doesn’t mean fencing ourselves off and living in a bubble. Jesus also told us to go into the world and preach. We can’t preach to people we don’t meet. He also wants us to do good to everyone, especially, but not including, Christians (Galatians 6:10).
Just like it isn’t feasible to only see people who are Christians, it’s not possible to only go to places with completely positive influences. Even a trip to the grocery store can’t be done in a bubble. Maybe on the way to the produce section there’s a magazine display with suggestive covers. Even looking away, those images can get in your head and stay for a while. But if we aren’t available for people around us, aren’t we hiding our lights?
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16
That’s not to say we should go places intentionally where we know we will be tested or where there’s something bad going on. If a friend is having a birthday party, then sure, I’ll go. But if things will be going on that God wouldn’t be pleased with me taking part in, then I won’t.
There are a lot of things to enjoy in life. I really enjoy watching a good movie or escaping in a book. But sometimes we have to draw the line at what we take in. Do I only watch “Christian” movies? No. But if I’m in a theater and the movie is vulgar or graphic and it’s having a negative effect on me, then yes, I do walk out. We have to be so careful what we put in our minds, because what goes in will come out, and not always when it’s convenient.
…For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. – Matthew 12:34
It’s all about balance. It’s all about influence. It’s all about impact.
As Christians, we need to be out in the world enough to share God with our corner of it. If I can have a positive effect on the people I’m around without changing who I am, that’s good. And if I only take in things that change me into a stronger Christian, then I can keep sharing God’s grace.
How about you? How do you find the balance?
May the Lord bless and keep you,