Friday, December 27, 2013

Going Against the Flow

This image is a blast from the past -- I used to have a t-shirt with this "go against the flow" graphic on it.

Even then, I had begun to move away from wearing my faith "on my sleeve", so to speak. I was hoping instead that my life might proclaim my faith without the aid of a t-shirt. (Ie., if the only way people knew I was a Christian was of slogans on my clothing, maybe I was going about it the wrong way.)

But this was one of the t-shirts that I wore regularly in the early 1990's. Brings back memories!

One of the memories/stories from the era of that t-shirt dovetails with the idea of "going against the flow": "They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you." (1 Peter 4:4)

One of the young women who attended our youth group every now and then (she had her own group at her own church, as well) sat down to chat with me after a meeting, because she had something on her mind.

Turns out she had been quite a party animal, until about two months previous, when she decided that she needed to live a life consistent with her faith. She felt convicted about the gap between her lifestyle and her faith, so she made a decision to stop partying it up with her friends all the time.

Now, this young woman's personality and character was not the judgmental, holier-than-thou type. That's just not who she was.

She didn't stop attending her friends' parties, because she valued her relationships. She just quit smoking and didn't get drunk with them like she used to.

That didn't last very long.

Her friends started treating her differently, and it wasn't long afterwards that a couple of them sat down with her to "confront" her for "judging" them. She was informed that she was no longer welcome to come to any of their parties. She suddenly found herself ostracized and excluded from a group of friends she'd known all her life.

Aye, and here's the rub: these were her Christian friends.

She wasn't a judgmental person. She didn't put on a holier-than-thou attitude. She never lectured. She didn't treat her friends any differently. All she did was quit smoking and getting drunk. And that alone drove her friends crazy. You see, you can maintain the illusion that nothing is wrong with your lifestyle as long as all the other Christians around you do the same thing. But if just one person begins to put their lifestyle in sync with their faith, it upsets the status quo faster than tossing a live shark into a crowded swimming pool.
"They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you."
There are times in life where you have to take a public stand. And when those times come, you'll take some lumps for doing it. We get that; it makes sense.

But sometimes we don't have to say anything. All we have to do, as this young woman found out the hard way, is just not join in.

"Going against the flow" may not always resemble the t-shirt or the painting at left (which kinda reminds me of the events of Daniel 3). Sometimes, all it takes is just quietly living your faith.

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