Not too long ago, a friend of mine posted something intriguing on Facebook. She thanked all her “non-chameleon” friends who were the same no matter what company they held. I found this to be very thought-provoking. I’m sure you can think of a few people who are chameleons. They act one way with a certain group of people, but are completely different with another group. They “change their color,” so to speak, to fit their environment. Now, to a minor extent we all do this. Most of us would probably be more subdued visiting an elderly relative in a nursing home than we would be at, say, a wedding reception. But that’s just two different sides of your personality- the caring, listening side and the fun-loving, have-a-good-time side. You’re still being yourself in both situations. But I ask you to consider another facet of your life and ask whether or not you’re a chameleon in this aspect- your faith.
They didn’t have a black iPhone in stock, so I had to settle for a white one!
My salon didn’t have any appointments open until Monday, so I can’t get my nails done for three more days!
Starbucks ran out of non-fat milk, so I had to get whole! Can you believe it?
Ah, First World Problems. I could go on and on, and I’m sure you could add to the list without even thinking twice. One website defines First World Problems as “frustrations and complaints that are only experienced by privileged individuals in wealthy countries. It is typically used as a tongue-in-cheek comedic device to make light of trivial inconveniences.” That pretty much sums it up for many of us in America. But I would argue that First World Problems are very real and very dangerous. Other countries have serious problems like hunger, civil war, persecution, and disease. Our First World Problems are not life-threatening, but they worm their way into our minds and wreak havoc on our mentality. We have largely become a nation of entitled people. We lament this trend in our children, who seem to demand everything life has to offer- the latest technology, the coolest toys, the best clothes, etc. Yet adults are no less guilty of this entitlement philosophy than our children are. We expect the best for ourselves. And that has led us to a very real, very dangerous First World Problem- indifference.
Some were beheaded, some were tortured to death, others burned to death, some were crucified, others sentenced to receive 80 lashes. Many of these things were done in public, as an example for all to see of the “dangers” of Christianity. Who were these individuals? The apostles, perhaps? Most of them were martyred for their faith in Jesus. That is true, but the examples I mention above come from an article written on December 9, 2013. These are modern day martyrs, being killed for their faith in Jesus in our own day and age. The title alone says it all: Christians are Being Burned Alive, Beheaded, Crucified, Tortured to Death & Imprisoned in Metal Shipping Containers, written by Michael Snyder for End of the American Dream. According to Snyder, there are 100 million Christians currently facing persecution, and that about 100,000 Christians die each year for their faith in Christ. That comes down to about 274 people each day, or about 11 every hour. In the amount of time it will take me to finish this article, approximately 10 Christians will die somewhere in this world because of their faith.
I never gave it much thought before, but I have a few tax collectors for neighbors. The other day I went to a house in my neighborhood to introduce myself to the mother of the kids my children play with. I heard strange music coming from the garage and walked in to find a number of people lounging around, smoking and drinking beer. I told them who I was and who my kids were, and they were all very friendly and introduced themselves as well. One guy introduced himself and his live-in girlfriend. One lady was a divorced mom. One guy had tattoos on his arms. I tried not to breathe in too much of the smoke wafting around, as I imagined my lungs getting black just from being there. Our conversation was pleasant enough, but I was uncomfortable nonetheless. And as I was leaving with an inward sigh of relief, it dawned on me. I was playing the part of the Pharisee, and they were the “tax collectors and sinners.”
Be careful of what you say. In a world of political correctness, that’s good advice. It’s politically incorrect to say that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Those who dare to make such a claim are labelled “intolerant” and “unloving.” If we dare to take a stand on a moral or social issue, as Phil Robertson did against homosexuality, we start a firestorm and are called “haters.” Hence, many Christians have found it easiest to just say nothing. But let me introduce you to a group of people who weren’t concerned about being PC. Let’s see what we can learn from their example.
Good morning, class! I assume you’ve all passed Church Growth 101, where you learned the secret to church growth, yes? In case you need a refresher, by all means, please read The Secret to Church Growth to review. But my guess is that most of you not only agree that church growth starts with the family unit, you also practice that in your own home. That is wonderful. But it can’t stop there.