It’s a warm Sunday in January. Most of our snow has melted because of our “warm” Chinook winds. I don’t like the wind, but I appreciated the chance to wear cute shoes for a day!
Today as our church gathered, a friend of ours was teaching on a chapter that seemed difficult to him in the week leading up to it. But he totally rocked it. And it got me thinking about some really good stuff.
Let me give you a little summary of some of the good stuff:
In the Old Testament, we see all of these different nations just going with the flow. Although they look quite different in the details, they are all heading in the same direction: downstream. All of the people in that region were living in a lifestyle that was not self-sustaining. Essentially without a major change, they would end up in destruction. Our friend called it something like the cultural river leading to the sea of destruction.
At first, this didn’t seem all that revolutionary to me. But continued talking about how God chose Abram to be a blessing. He asked him to come out of the current and live differently, not just for his own sake but also for everyone else’s. Our friend drew a little eddy off this cultural river, a way to stay out of the current. He discussed (relating to the section of scripture) that sometimes the descendants of Abram joined the surrounding cultures in the current, sometimes they remained set apart and sometimes they even managed to swim upstream and actually be a blessing to the other cultures.
THAT is what got me thinking. If you take a stand for what you believe to be the best way of doing things and set yourself apart from everyone else, whatever you’ve accomplished will be for you and for you only.
However, if you take hold of beautiful truths, allow them to change the way you live and then live amongst others, your life can make a difference. It’s only when we live humbly amongst others that they see something worth considering.
It struck me. It seems like the tendency for Christians, for eco-minded folks and anyone who gets on board with a movement goes something like this:
1. This is the truth, you should believe this.
2. Now that you believe this, join us.
3. Those people don’t believe this, you should let go of those relationships or they might be a bad influence.
In one respect those people are right. By cutting yourself off completely from the rest of culture, you certainly can remain on the straight and narrow. But will your life make any difference to anyone else? Your chances are slim. That weird homeschool kid comes to mind. You know the one – he or she might be a great person, but good luck trying to hold a conversation with them!
So how does one swim upstream? How do we (Christians, sustainable farmers, intentionally minded folks etc) live out what we believe amidst people who don’t (yet!) understand? Here are a few of the ideas I had, but I would love for you to share some of yours in the comments.
- Can you socialize with people who hold different political or religious views? How are you at finding common ground with people you aren’t best buds with? Maybe it’s time to break out the old fashioned conversation skills. Etiquette by Emily Post has fantastic tips; no household should be without a copy. I’m not even an Amazon affiliate to make money off you buying it.
- Do you have friends who believe differently than you? Do you have any hobbies or attend social events where you would cross paths? Maybe it’s time to reconsider ways you and your family could spend some of your free time.
- Are you spending time with a supportive group of people? For instance, Christians: are you a part of a church that equips and encourages you to live a humble, upright life among unbelievers? Maybe it’s time to find a family that’s on mission with you.
- Do you invite people outside of your demographic into your life? If you have found something that’s made a difference to you, how will anyone ever understand if you don’t let them see? Maybe it’s time to bring back the art of hospitality. I have a book suggestion for that too – and nearly every other topic under the sun – I case you’re wondering!
- Finally, fellow Christians: do you really trust that the Spirit works in the hearts and minds of others? Can you be a part of the lives of unbelievers knowing that the Spirit will guide you and convict of sin? Do you trust him to do that for others as well?
I think this is the tough part. I say this from both sides; as a person who has tried to act like the Holy Spirit for people and a person who’s life has been deeply effected by others who wouldn’t trust God to work things out in me in his own time.
Again, I’d love to hear the ways you and your family are successfully living an upstream kind of life – trying to be a blessing to others. Comment below or reply to the email.