Nobody's Perfect, But That Isn't An Excuse
So much for a post everyday, huh?
After my birthday rolled around on Wednesday and Thanksgiving Thursday, I got way off track--my apologies. But I'm back!
For weeks, I've been talking about doing a post on young adults, Christianity and living a life of contradictions. Not from a judgmental standpoint, but as a truth-seeker. But I didn't want to rush it because this is a subject matter very close to my heart and I wanted to be sure I did my research and remained accurate in my prose. That being said...
Let's face it, none of us are perfect. Whether you are a young Christian or someone seasoned in the faith, we make mistakes. Every day. I think one of the biggest issues I have with older Christians is that, sometimes they think they are above everyone else--like they've been saved, sanctified and Holy Ghost filled every single day of their lives. Now, I don't know everyone' s life story, but I know no one is free from sin and mistakes. But it isn't the mistake so much that creates the problem--it's our actions following the mistakes that we are held accountable for.
I grew up with a firm Christian foundation in my household--studying the Word as a family, actively involved in church and sunday school, but it wasn't until I went to college that I actually began developing a relationship with the Lord for myself. As a child, I always heard people say, "you find out who you really are once you're released from the watch of your parents." Those words are so true. In college, no one is there to force you to go to church every Sunday, forcing you to pray or read your Bible. So in college I'm learning the importance of developing my own spiritual walk, while also experiencing the lifestyle of a young person living away from home for the first time.
Can you see how there would be a constant struggle?
If one is aware of the type of person they want to be and their faith, I'm sure they have realized the struggle of being a Christian and still dealing with issues of the flesh. As young Christians, it is so easy to forget whose we are. We get caught up. The secular lifestyle can appear to be very appealing--it can easily make you feel as if not being apart of it, you're missing something tremendous. In one of my favorite books, "Strength to Love" by Dr. MLK, Jr. he says, "numerous decent, wholesome young persons permit themselves to become involved in unwholesome pursuits that they do not personally condone or even enjoy, because they are ashamed to say no when the gang says yes." Peer pressure is real. Dr. King goes onto say that we are supposed to be nonconformist--our lives are supposed to be unique; folks should see something different within us.
There is a passage in Romans about struggling with sin that I refer to often. We have to make a conscious effort to not allow sin to pollute our bodies and our minds. Romans 7:22 says,
"For in my inner being I delight in God's law (this is only true if you have a relationship with Him); but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members...so then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin."
In a different passage, The Apostle Paul tells us we can't be like everyone else. Yes, we live in this world but we cannot repeat what we see everyone else doing. Any Christian who blindly accepts the opinions of the majority and in fear and timidity follows a path of unrighteousness and social approval is a mental and spiritual slave. I don't know about y'all, but I wish not to be a slave to anything or anybody.
In the first chapter of the book of James, the writer speaks about the reality that there are some people who profess to be Christians, and yet do not live as if they are Christians. He argues that your Christianity ought to permeate every area of life, but there are some Christians who profess a personal piety and who do not display a public morality.
So here lies the burning the question: How do we, as young believers, overcome this struggle with sin? Well, this is what I've found:
- Environment. If we're serious about living a Godly lifestyle, it's important to remove anything from our lives that could possibly deter us from that process. This will not be an overnight success and it certainly won't be easy, but it's very necessary. As we progress in our lives, everyone can't come with us. They just can't. There's not enough room. As Christians, our life, actions and circle should be exclusive. Freeing our lives of drama, confusion, negativity and anything that presents itself as a hinderance to us is critical. Not everyone will understand this; and those that don't, will slowly begin removing themselves from your life. We ought to surround ourselves with good, remain humble and remember we're still human, but striving to be better everyday. Titus 3 says, "At one time we were too foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures...but when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we've done, but because of His mercy." We must surround ourselves with love, positive influences and general upright living. Our environment plays a very important role in our progress. If we are weak, being around things we once enjoyed can make us fall into bad habits.
- Desire to actually be better. I'm not one for clichés, in fact, one of the first rules of journalism I learned is to avoid them completely, but this one is so appropriate: you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. Meaning, it doesn't matter how many times you encourage or pray for someone, if we aren't willing to help ourselves, all of that will be in vain. Drug addicts, alcoholics, even shopaholics don't just wake up freed from those demons--at some point, they have a desire to change their lives. Yes, God is merciful, but we've got to put in work too! We must seek the Lord and be serious about the right lifestyle and wanting to be better people. How do we do that? By praying--asking the Lord to remove anything which unpure and damaging to our progress as a Christian. Prayers don't have to be fancy or even all that verbose--it is a simple conversation with Him. After we seek God, we are then held accountable for all of our actions thereafter: "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God." (Hebrews 10:26)
- Finding purpose in life. Living for something is one of the biggest motivators for changing a lifestyle. What is your purpose? What did God put you on this Earth to accomplish? Those questions can only be answered by having enough clarity to talk with God and listening for His voice. Sometimes we are not always ready for what God has for us and we tend to tune him out...but that only goes on for so long. A key part to Christian committment is the faithfulness of the persecuted. We must be able to find purpose in life even when we are hurt or disappointed and not looking to earthly delights to mend wounds, but instead looking to Our Father. We have to assess who we are, which is a child of God. We are forever indebted to a rich legacy of Christian commitment. It is important to be strong in our faith and serious about our goals and wanting to obtain them. It is unrealistic to expect God to continue blessing us when we refuse to acknowledge Him. Blessings are contingent upon obedience! It is our duty to live a life that encourages others to come to Christ, not push them away. We find life through the Spirit. "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you...if Christ lives in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your Spirit is alive because of righteousness." (Romans 8:9)
As young adults, we are going to have struggles. We are going to have constant tests of our faith. But it is our aspiration to overcome these shortcomings through prayer and practice so that one day we are partakers in eternal life.