That's It! I've Had It!
“That’s it! I’ve had it!”
This makes the fourth business whose newfangled policies have encroached upon my convictions. My conscience says it will tolerate no more. So, onto my list of 'places I will not patronize again' it went. Truth be told, if I knew the half of who and what was behind other places I frequent, my list would undoubtedly multiply in number and I would end up shopping exclusively on-line (as if that was better?). But at least singling out these few is inching me closer toward Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord (2 Corinthians 6:17).
As Christians, our lives should already reflect the change that has taken place in us. We are set apart as holy to the Lord (Deuteronomy 14:2). Holiness is the core of who we are because the Lord is the core. Learning to walk out holiness unto Him is a constant. And God is pleased to embrace the challenge of teaching us how to do it. He continually presents us with hands-on lessons in how to navigate through the strain of living in this world . . . yet not be of it (John 17:15-16). Paul said, I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own (Philippians 3:12 AMPL).
God has been busy building godly character in us since day one of our schooling. And we have attained certain measures of wisdom in sainthood as we've walked life's lessons out.
But in the last eight-plus months, the church has embarked on a significant ‘learning curve’. With the escalating clash between light and dark, flesh and spirit, scriptures like—narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:14)—take on a new rubber-meets-the-road kind of meaning. On this transformation road, what was vague and permissible yesterday, is not okay today . . . but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2). Advanced courses of study in holiness are about to begin. One day we will receive our doctorate in the perfect will of God if we keep at it.
So, in an effort to stay up with my Teacher, I’m one-by-one lobbing off unnecessary things in my life, drawing the thus-far-and-no-further line of demarcation. It amazes me what I have put up with for convenience sake. I’m also relieved to find that so far my decisions to abstain have caused only slight inconvenience.
But what about when darkness progresses further? What will we do when the world system requires that we all take the mark of the beast? Will we, the church, stand strong? or cave because we’re feeling the squeeze?
I fear that if we hold out till the last minute to let go of worldly things, we won’t be able to. Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things). Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its power (1 Corinthians 6:12 AMPL). The longer something is permitted, the more embedded it becomes. As set apart ones, we can’t stay prisoner to earthly props.
In the late 80's, my husband, daughter, and I were privileged to taste missionary life in a foreign country. For three months, we lived in the Zimbabwean bush country, in community with sixteen others from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Scotland, England, and the USA.
My husband and daughter were in euphoria. He was there as a contractor, co-laboring with African locals to build two dams across a dry river bed before the rainy season commenced. For our twelve-year-old daughter, it was a summer of liberation. Peer pressures back home to grow up too fast quickly lost their hold on her.
As for me, I loved the experience—and hated it. The Christians we lived with were devout and caring, the nearby villagers, delightful. I loved Zimbabwe’s remarkable scenery (despite its seven-year drought). Its wildlife was incredible. Our accommodations, though humble, were comfy, and our cooking methods, adventurous. Yet, I hated it. I hated being denied things I wanted when I wanted them. I hated 'dying to self'.
Needless to say, when we returned home I breathed a sigh of relief. That is, until my husband announced his plan to move us to the country so we could live holy and set apart from the corrupting influences of city life.
As survivor of what I considered a crash-course in living holy and set apart in the African wild, I instantly balked. I was still licking my (flesh) wounds. In defense, I argued that holiness would be easy if you were isolated in a cave somewhere. I went on to say that my God was able to keep us in the middle of a garbage can. Which is true—He can. His chosen classroom for schooling in holiness just so happens to be a fast-declining world.
But my husband's point was equally as valid. Breaking free from dependency upon worldly props is a must. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, Like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me (Psalm 131:20). Weaning suggests a process rather than a crash course. I prefer process, but we may not have that choice as this world system hits the fast track toward its end.
Lord, help us fully embrace our call of holiness unto You. Grace us with courage and strength to live life set apart from this world—whatever it looks like and whatever it costs.