No doubt you've seen the news about the two American judges in the U. S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declaring the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional because it contains the phrase "one nation under God."
That ruling has now been temporarily put on hold, but it came from the same liberal, activist court that has tried to declare the clergy housing allowance unconstitutional. It's just another sign that we're living in a post-Christian, postmodern era, and I have no doubt we'll see more and more assaults upon our faith in the future.
It's easy to get discouraged and wonder, "How in the world should we live?" Here are some steps I would suggest:
1. Evaluate everything.
What's the standard of evaluation? The Bible. The Bible has outlasted every culture throughout history. We use this as a standard to evaluate everything that goes on. Is it right? Is it true? Is it what God says?
The fact is there are really only two sources for life. You will base your life either on the Word or you will base your life on the world. The Bible teaches very clearly that we are in a battle between the word and the world.
"The truth is, although we live normal human lives, the battle we are fighting is on the spiritual level. Our battle is to break down every deceptive argument and defense that men erect against the true knowledge of God."
2. Develop strong convictions.
The people whose lives have made the greatest impact on the world are people who live by conviction rather than convenience. You need to develop some strong convictions to counteract the pressure of culture.
Colossians 2:20 says, "With Christ you have died to the elements of this world. Then why do you let others dictate to you?" If God accepts you and approves of you, what does it matter what other people think?
The Bible says following Christ sets you free from the expectations of others. That's real freedom. I don't have to be in. I don't have to be out. If God likes me, that's all that matters.
3. Love God with all your heart.
1 John 2:15 (Good News) "Do not love the world or anything that belongs to it. If you love the world, you don't have the love of the Father in you."
You can't love God and love what the world loves at the same time. They are mutually exclusive. The point is this: God wants your full allegiance. He wants you to love Him with all your heart. In Matthew 22:26, that's the Great Commandment. Jesus said, "I can summarize the whole Old Testament in this, 'Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength.'" The problem is that many believers want to love God half-heartedly. They want to love other things, too. God has a term for believers who have allowed other things to become more important that their relationship to God. He calls it spiritual adultery.
Millions of so-called believers commit it all the time. They're more interested in pleasure, possessions, and position. They're saying, "Yes, I want a relationship with God, but my time and my energy and my money are going to pursue the good life."
The point is this - spiritual adultery makes me an enemy of God. The kind of pain that adultery can cause in a relationship is the same kind of pain that a believer can inflict on God when we're not faithful to Him all the time. It breaks His heart. It's serious business. I need to love God with all my heart.
4. Influence others for good.
Philippians 2:15 (NLT) - "You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your lives shine brightly before them."
My lifestyle is to be such a bright contrast to the culture that I shine out like a star. If you've ever studied the parables of Jesus, many of them have to do with this concept of penetration. He says, "You are the salt of the earth." Salt penetrates meat. Have you ever tried to get salt out of meat once it's in? Difficult. "You are the light of the world." Light penetrates the darkness. "You're leaven." Leaven penetrates the bread.
The point is this: God wants you to make an impact with your life for good. How do I do that? By sharing the Good News with others. Not by trying to make non-Christians act like Christians, but by sharing the Good News with others.
John 17:15+18 says, "Jesus said, 'My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.'" When you became a believer, when you put your faith in Christ, you became an agent of God, but He doesn't want you to be a secret agent. He wants other people to know it. He says, "I want you to influence others."
This article is used by permission from Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox, a free weekly e-newsletter for those in ministry. www.pastors.com.