In today's world, we are overloaded with ideas, opinions, and decisions that are made for us by a standard that is set within society that tells us that their way is the only way. We cannot get through a day without being bombarded with expectations for our lifestyles, politics, weight, careers, and even our faith (or lack there of). There even, often times, is a prejudice against religion in society that can make one feel as though it is wrong to exercise faith in this day and age. The pressure can be immense and really make us feel like we must follow what society tells us is right, regardless of what we believe and know to be true. When these pressures are contrary to the truths in God's word, it leads us to ask "How do we face such pressures and make decisions that honor our faith, while having a healthy pride in doing so?
It is no secret that there can be very skewed depictions of Christians in media that depict Christians as uptight or judgemental, not fun to be around, or somehow subpar. Unfortunately, this can create a situation where society can isolate individual, especially young individuals, and make them feel as though their faith in God makes them unworthy of the friendship and positive experiences others are allowed to have. This can deeply affect individuals and their own ideas of faith as they see negative consequences in their lives, bore out of the simple fact that they follow Jesus Christ.
These negative depictions of Christians don't necessarily only exist in media, however. They can also be seen in classrooms from elementary school to university, as progressive teachings begin to shine a negative light on traditional values that many Christian individuals and families hold dear. I'm not saying progressive beliefs are always bad, I am about as middle road as possible and love progress, fight for civil rights, gender, and environmental issues constantly as well as am a huge proponent for education accessibility for all, no matter race, creed, gender, or nationality. I was a public school warrior and see the value in education that welcomes every walk of life; however, I can also see the downside of progression, when progression begins to single out one group as wrong or backwards, not because of any way in which their views are hurting, marginalizing, or stigmatizing someone else, but because their views are simply different than today's societal norms... and when someone is singled out, they can start to feel something called "FOMO".
FOMO, or the fear of missing out can manifest itself in individuals of any age despite economic, cultural, or even marital status. It does not necessarily have to manifest in people with are inherently lonely, depressed, or poor (although all those things can contribute to such feelings. FOMO is simply the feeling that if one does not go against the present situation, their moral beliefs, or their means, they will miss opportunities for adventure, connection, and success that they will not ever have a chance to recreate otherwise. This creates a lot of peer pressure in situations such as alcohol and drug use, premarital sex, extramarital affairs, and even denunciation of faith.
And this isn't right! We shouldn't be made to feel as though we cannot live a full and fulfilling life by follow the teachings of our faith. Jesus said, "The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]." (John 10:10 AMP) He did not come to make us miserable, miss out, or take away all of our friends! He never told us we had to be boring, afraid to laugh or dance, and uptight in every situation. NO! Jesus came so that He might save us from the hurt of all the things that society throws into our face and writes off as "experience", but really only lead us to sin and death and have freed us to have abundant happiness and experience His way. Not less than anyone else's, not ever so slightly less exciting. In abundance, to the full, till it OVERFLOWS!
It takes courage to stand up to society when society is telling us only their way is right! I know, I lived that struggle out for most of my adult life! It takes faith to say "Lord show me the friendships that I need and help me have the strength to walk away from the ones that hurt me" and to trust Him in that! It takes discipline to not give into the stereotypes that media throw into our face and to dance as if no one is watching when everyone thought you more like Footloose when really you were waiting for Patrick Swayze to have time of your life! It especially takes so much courage to say "no" when men and women and pretty much everyone has told you that "yes" was the only way you would find and keep a lasting relationship nowadays.
Brothers and sisters, we have to remember that we serve a God that gave us laughter, beautiful and precious jewels, a kind that tore his clothes and danced in the street, faith like Daniel in the Lion's Den, and a Savior that has been through it all and that is always right by our side. Society doesn't have the final say, Jesus does, and guess what... He wins in the end!
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. – Ephesians 6:13 (NLT)
Want to join us for our October Reading Plan Challenge? There's still time! This month, I invite you to join me in a month-long study of the promises of God! Each day, there are short passages to read and meditate on and I will be discussing them live on Instagram each day of the month to help you broaden your understanding of the passages as well as take questions and thoughts from others. Don't forget to follow along on Instagram and join in! Below you will find this month's reading plan to get you started and I hope to see you over on Instagram Live as we make time for God TOGETHER!