Belief or preference?

Morning all

I don’t know about you but the pressure to fit in at work is quite a strong one – particularly as a Christian when so much happens around us that is often hard to square away with what we believe in.

Jesus said in Matthew 10 v 37-39 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it”.

So I thought about these pressures:

Peer Pressure

Teens tend to be idealistic, and this is often good. They often resolve to be serious, “hit the books” and avoid trouble. But if the “right” boy or girl appears, or if the teen is recognized by the “right” clique, his desire to be accepted by them pressures him to adjust his ideals to conform to them. His ideals or convictions are really only preferences.

A Pastor may search the Bible for truth and find something interesting that he believes and decides to do and teach. When he tells his fellow Pastors about what he has found, they may say to him, “I don’t say you’re wrong in this, but don’t you think you should tone it down a bit? Make it less offensive, and then maybe we can cooperate with you and work on some of your ideas.”

At first he may strongly defend his belief, but little by little, as he sees the reaction of his peers, he may begin to bend. He believes it and resolves to do it, but if he changes, his belief is a preference.

At work we may see something or be asked to do something that simply goes against what we believe. At first we decide that we will stand up against this – even seemingly small things such as “your turn to tell a smutty joke or to laugh with others at one told at the office party”. But the consequences of being the odd one out , or having to take a stand at odds with the boss takes hold and before you know where you are you have joined in. Your belief is simply a preference.

If the Word of God tells us to change something, we must change it! But we must be very careful about things previously proved from God’s Word, believed, put into practice and then changed when some form of pressure is brought to bear!

Family Pressure

This is perhaps the strongest pressure. When Jesus advises His disciples about counting the cost of commitment to Him, every person He mentions is a family member. “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” he says.

Usually no one can motivate you like a deeply loved husband or wife. A husband may resolve to commit himself to a strong belief, but on telling his wife, she replies, “Please don’t, darling. Do you realize what this will do to us and our family?” His resolve begins to melt because he knows he will feel responsible if, because of his belief, he inflicts discomfort or pain on his family.

The Pressure of Death

This test is obvious, yet some have learned through experience that there is a fate worse than death. When a person’s resolve over a belief fails, his guilt can be crushing. Luke 22:34, 59-62 shows Peter in such a circumstance.

Do you see the common factor in these? What does your belief mean to YOU? What are you willing to sacrifice in exercising your belief? If you feel you should do something but have the right not to do it, it is merely a preference.

A belief that is God-ordered is a conviction. It is not merely a matter of resolve or dedication, but a matter of believing with all our heart that God requires it of us. If we hold our beliefs as God-ordered, we will withstand all the above tests.

So have a good week and “press on”

Mark

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