I like to joke that I live in a hostile environment. As a Michigan transplant to Texas, I’m not at all used to the climate down here. It’s much hotter here, and the sun is a lot more intense. Some days I can’t get enough water. When the heat index is over 100 and the AC runs almost constantly just to keep it at 80, even being inside is dehydrating, and I drink water all day long. Summertime is downright miserable. My poor blonde-haired children are no match for the sun, so I need to be extra vigilant about protecting them, lest they burn or get dehydrated or get heatstroke. Like I said, we’re in a hostile environment.
When you live in a place with excessive heat, you plan accordingly. I limit the amount of time my kids can play outside in the summer, and try to avoid the hottest part of the day. If we go swimming or to the beach, we lather up with sunscreen and reapply it multiple times. I got short-sleeved swimsuits with shorts for my youngest kids who burn more easily to limit the amount of skin exposed. They wear hats to protect their faces and keep the sun out of their eyes. And we all drink plenty of water. We need to do these things for our own protection.
In a very real sense, all of us live in a hostile environment, one that is increasingly opposed to Christianity. Jesus tells His disciples, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:19). This is painfully obvious when Christians are ridiculed and insulted for being “narrow minded” on things like the LGBTQ agenda. When it comes to life issues, we are not “pro-life,” but “anti-abortion” or “anti-women’s rights.” Those who dare to take a stand for truth are belittled or defamed, causing many to choose silence or compromise instead.
So how can you protect yourself? Limit your exposure to dangerous influences like movies or TV shows with bad morals, questionable websites, and unwholesome books. “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes,” as Paul advises in Ephesians 6:11. Drink deeply of the living water. Jesus says in John 7:37-38, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
In addition to the above, surround yourself with like-minded Christians both in and out of church services on Sunday mornings. The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). Just as I need to remind my kids to come inside when they’ve been out too long, or to reapply sunscreen and get a glass of water, so believers are to encourage each other to give up sinful habits, to keep the faith, and to study the Scriptures.
Yes, you do live in a hostile environment in this world, but it won’t always be that way. Revelation draws a beautiful picture of heaven, the “new Jerusalem.” Revelation 21:23 tells us that heaven “does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” A few verses later in 22:1, we read about “the river of the water of life, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” So take heart. That’s what we get to look forward to. And so we echo the words of Revelation 22:17––”The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Dept of Agriculture