by Nora Penia
Hunters and soldiers often use camouflage to remain unseen and hidden. They go to great effort to conceal their appearance: special clothes, face paint, painted vehicles and tools. Often their lives depend on their ability to remain invisible.
It is often easy for a Christian to slip unconsciously into camouflage, taking on the traits of those around her, absorbing the atmosphere and responding in like manner. Making one’s Christian state known can be awkward, sometimes resulting in becoming the target of mean spirited joking, put downs or outright antagonism.
Unlike soldiers who wear clothing which mimic the surrounding terrain, Christians change their behavior to blend in. They may use bad language or laugh at dirty jokes, or at most, simply shake their heads in mock disapproval. The prevailing customs in dress, or lack thereof, may be adopted just because ‘everyone’ is doing it. Or, they may decide to look the other way when those around them behave immorally or illegally.
Closer to home, they may ignore laws such as traffic laws or stretch the limit on their tax deductions. Perhaps a Christian will adopt some of the worldly attitudes about personal moral conduct – watching ‘soft’ porn on the cable, or flirting with infidelity.
At work one may go along with the crowd. and remain silent on moral issues -padding expense accounts, exaggerating product claims, lying about overdue work, etc.
I’m not suggesting Christians should attack others who believe differently, or force their beliefs on others. But, it should be possible to take a stand for Biblical truths quietly, politely, but firmly.
“But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
Most Christians, if put to a test and forced to decide between their faith and their lives, probably believe they would stand firm. Maybe they would; maybe they would not. Most of us will never have to make that decision. We will be tested in the small everyday decisions we make, in little things we hardly notice.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Everyday, whether we realize it or not, we are presented with one opportunity after another to shine for the Lord. In the check out line, where everyone is rushed and taciturn. Smile or grumble? In heavy traffic on the way home after a long day. Let others in or ignore them?
There is a wonderful movement among young people called What Would Jesus Do? You may have seen bumper stickers or key chains with the initials WWJD on them. It’s a new idea, but an old one too. Jesus spent several years teaching his followers to follow in His steps.
This ‘new’ movement is based on a book written in 1896 by Charles Sheldon by the name of In His Steps in which a whole community decided to live their lives everyday as they thought Jesus would. Charles Sheldon’s great-grandson revived and retold the story recently, giving birth to this new generation of WWJD’ers.
Our modern lives are so complicated, making it easy to forget our mission on earth. Earning a living, shopping, raising kids, doing housework and yard work, attending social functions, maintaining a church life, working on personal growth, exercising, preparing meals, doing the laundry — all can overshadow our spiritual witness.
Studies on human behavior have revealed that individuals usually follow the lead of the first two or three people to speak out in any group. After that, peer pressure starts to build, and the longer one remains silent, the harder it is to speak against the group. This is true even when the person KNOWS he is right. The pressure from other people can be intense, but most adults believe they are not influenced by others.
Perhaps Christians should practice speaking up right away and making their position on any controversial issue known. Not in a belligerent way. Just a simple: ‘In my opinion, this is wrong,’ or ‘I can not go along with this’. Nothing judgmental. No high and mighty self righteousness. It is possible other timid souls will be encouraged to speak up.
And, after all, people who are not Christians do not hesitate to express their views on any subject. Why not be the candle which lights the path, even if no one else follows?
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Nora Penia is an educator and writer. She has written one novel, as yet unpublished, and for over two years has written for her own online magazine entitled At the Fence, Relationships and Parenting. Visit her site: http://www.atthefence.com