The post asks what crowd do you run with? Should we attempt to please and fit in with the people around us, regardless of their values and outlook? Or do we separate from people who do not represent our values?
It is a tricky question, as obviously common manners requires some level of acceptance and interaction with others. And I am definitely not advocating that we all become hermits! But where is the balance to be found?
Of course, the Bible tells us:
But how does this look when you are different to most of the people around you?
My boys started school this year after homeschooling (long story) and I see the changes, particularly in my 10 year old. They are attending a lovely Christian school so this in no way reflects on the school. It is just the way of kids; a Christian school will just lessen the worldly impact, but it is still there. I'm not sure what the percentages are, but not all the students are Christian. Many parents are sending their children to this school as it is just so wonderful compared to the public schools in the area. So my son has started swearing, doing rude gestures, being very competitive and argumentative, is reluctant to spend time with younger siblings and wants to watch all sorts of terrible shows on TV. A lot of this I can see as an outcome of the need to fit in with the other kids. Coming into school for the first time (for which, I admit, I didn't prepare him as I didn't know it was coming), he is trying really hard to fit in and maybe it will settle down as he becomes more used to the school environment.
I don't want him to be the lonely child in the playground. I can tell you, the first few months he was at school and I happened to be there at lunchtime, I would see him sitting by himself and it nearly broke my heart. I had this with my oldest daughter every time my hubby changed work and we had to move and it was heart rending. Every day I would make her lunch, knowing she would be eating it alone, and as soon as they left for school, I would be in tears for ages. But I also don't want the boys to put what other kids think of them before what God thinks of them.
I can tell you, lots of praying in this area for me at the moment!
Even worse though, I sometimes find myself doing it as well. You know how it goes - you are in a group of ladies and they start discussing something unsavoury that makes you uncomfortable, then someone makes a dirty joke and you join in the laughter so you don't look like a prude. I am then disappointed in myself and think what would Jesus think of me laughing at that joke?
It is a hard road to follow, so much easier to be the same as the rest of society. I find it hard as I am the only Christian in my whole family, not a single one in my own house or extended family. So I am definitely the outsider. With the miracle of Christmas upon us, I find that I cannot celebrate the birth of Jesus with the open joy that the event deserves. That is difficult.
But I keep praying and following the road the best way I can, sometimes in the grass on the edge, sometimes on the road, sometimes miles away in the bush. I think as long as I know where the road is in my heart, then I will keep coming back to it, even if I stray for a while due to outside influences. And God always knows my heart and can lead me back there. He sure sends me lots of sign posts every day. It is amazing how He does that for His children.
'if I find myself half-carelessly taking lapses for granted,
"Oh, that's what they always do,"
"Oh, of course she talks like that, he acts like that,"
then I know nothing of Calvary love.'
if by Amy Carmichael
Linking with Good Morning Monday at Darling Downs Diaries.