Conforming to the World
Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
~ Ephesians 5:7-11
Whether we find Christ later in life or are fortunate to have been raised in a Christian life, one of the great temptations we have is to mingle with atheists. It really seems so harmless, especially if they are nice people, or funny, or we are single and attracted to a pretty/handsome face and a pleasant personality. Plus, we convince ourselves, aren't we supposed to go out into the world in order to spread the Gospel?
It is actually almost impossible to avoid interaction with the unsaved. Even the Amish, who try about as hard as possible to maintain their relationships within a Christian community, are sometimes forced by necessity to take jobs at “English” factories (who love to hire them, since they are generally about the hardest working people one can find); and even the lucky ones, who can afford the land to farm, must shop in stores, sell goods to outsiders, go to English doctors, etc..
But if we want to deepen our life in Christ and grow in the Spirit, it is important to spend as much time in the company of other Christians as possible, especially when we simply socialize. Christian fellowship is a powerful tool in so many ways: not to mention, it is ordained by God. We have sufficient temptation pulling us away from Christ by our nature; we don't need to add the unholy voices, sights, and opinions of those who walk in darkness, flooding into our minds.
The Great Commission, to spread the Gospel to the whole world, does not mean constant argument with atheists and mockers. Even the apostles (who were way holier than I am and, I assume, anyone reading this) were told by Christ Himself: if you approach someone and they will not hear you, “knock the dust off your sandals” and move on.
Face it — we are human and we tend to conform to whomever we spend time with. If we are going to be pulled in a direction by the people around us, we need to ensure that we are being pulled in the direction we want to go, the direction Christ wants us to go. And the same holds true for movies, television, books and radio. Everybody wants to have some fun and get some entertainment, but the more we can steer ourselves away from the unholy, the easier we will find our spiritual growth. “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.” (Romans 2:12)
Lord, let me follow your will in choosing how I live my life. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer