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17
Mar

Accepting a Challenge

Posted by on in The Upward Call
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bundle of signs 800 clr 15308           Typically, in our culture, challenges are thought of in the arena of competition. A bosses’ authority is challenged at work, so he/she responds by making sure the employees know their place in the company. On the football field, a coach may challenge an official’s call or a defense may accept the challenge of keeping a team out of the end zone from the one yard line (sorry OU fans). Yet, a greater challenge then any of these awaits Christians, and it is not in the area of competition; it is in the area of answering God’s calling.

            Rodney Stark in his book What Americans Really Believe says this, “Strict religions are those that exist in a relatively high state of tension with their sociocultural environment—the extent to which religious groups ‘fit in’ vis-à-vis secular society. Some groups are so accepting of worldly norms, rules, and values as to be virtually indistinguishable from the surrounding culture” (30). God issues a challenge to all Christians: Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” What Stark has said is so true; by relaxing our standards, we begin to look more and more like the world. Instead of letting the world creep into our minds and hearts, much like a football team that lets an opponent move all the way down the field until they are in the “red” zone and then stiffens their defense, we need to fight the influences of this world every morning when we wake up by determining to think differently. Let me give you three quick ways to begin to be different than the world and accept the challenge God’s desires for each of us to make:

  1. Consider others more important than yourself. Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” We are not in a competition where we are required to “win.” Instead, we are told to take the lowest seat, the last place, the place of humility in order to benefit others at all times. Not just when it suits us or is convenient.
  2. Strive to work together with other Christians in every way. John 17:21, “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Unity of purpose, thought, and action is a great way to testify to the world that we are different. There is not room for a bunch of “lone ranger” Christians because it diminishes God’s influence in the world. When we chose not to participate in the body, we weaken the church’s influence in the world.
  3. Quit listening to what the world tells you is important. John 8:43-44, “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. It is very simple. There is truth that comes from the mouth of God (John 17:17) and there are lies that come from the mouth of Satan. Which are we listening to? Which one are we investing our lives in? Which one is going to prove true for eternity? There are no half-truths with God, but Satan delights in including just enough truth in his lies to confuse us. Listen to God’s challenge and accept it.
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