To accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is to stand in opposition to the worldly system operating at this time. Believers are, by their character through Jesus Christ, different from those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior—different in perspective, different in morals, different in desires, different in loyalties, different in every way. This call to be different is not new by any means. In his letter to believers of the early church, Peter told the believers to be holy because through the sacrifice of Jesus the believers had a relationship with Holy God. The believers were to be holy, meaning they were to be set apart for God's purposes or separate from the world around them because they now had salvation and intimate fellowship with God who is by nature set apart from the sinfulness of the world. Therefore, Peter wrote, "Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires which war against your soul." Thus, the believer should not be surprised by the difference between himself and the world. Moreover, it is equally important that the believer should strive for a difference by abstaining from the sinfulness that is ever-present in our world.
There are times when this difference of worldviews does not particularly bother a believer. This can be the case when an individual does not struggle or have a close relationship with an individual who struggles with a particular sin. Take for example the sin of homosexuality. For an individual who has not personally struggled with this sin or watched as a close friend or relative has struggled with this sin there can be an impersonal nature in how a believer approaches the difference of worldviews. However, there are times when it can become uncomfortable to confront sinfulness with the Word of God. One of the most uncomfortable times I can think of is speaking to a family member or close friend about a particular sinful behavior that you, as a believer in Jesus Christ, cannot involve yourself with or support. From my time in youth ministry I can remember many times talking with teenagers who dreaded the times when they were called to express the truth of God's Word to a parent, grandparent, sibling, or close friend. They knew they would be ridiculed because of their stance on the Word of God. They had doubts and did not think they knew enough to approach the topic to speak clearly. Sometimes the individual knew that objecting to a lifestyle that is contrary to the Word of God would result in rejection from this family member or close friend. It is this personal connection with an individual who is also caught in sin that makes speaking the truth of God so difficult or uncomfortable at times.
It is in these times a believer can reflect on the ministry of the prophet Jeremiah. God called Jeremiah to speak to the nation of God in the southern kingdom of Judah. Jeremiah was a priest in the territory of Benjamin which was a part of the southern kingdom of Judah. God called Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations about what God was going to do among the people. Jeremiah was called to prophesy to his own people about the coming destruction of their homeland by a foreign people due to the peoples' unfaithfulness to following God. Put yourself in Jeremiah's position so that you can relate to the weight of this situation. Jeremiah was called of God to be God's voice among the people telling them about their sins against God and the coming punishment of God for this disobedience. These were not some far off people to Jeremiah; people of a distant land to whom Jeremiah had no connection or relationship. Jeremiah was told to confront his own people with the truth of God. Jeremiah was told to be God's voice against his own mother, father, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, childhood friends, neighbors, distant relatives, and ancestors. Jeremiah grew up in the land of Judah, among the very people he was now to confront with God's truth.
Upon God calling Jeremiah to ministry, Jeremiah 1:6-8 records a dialogue between God and Jeremiah. Jeremiah 1:6 (NIV 1984) records, "Ah, Sovereign Lord, I do not know how to speak; I am only a child." Jeremiah felt inadequate to fulfill the calling laid before him. No doubt, Jeremiah was aware of the ridicule and the rejection that followed a prophet of God for he had seen these things heaped upon the prophets who had come before him. However, God answered Jeremiah's doubt. God said, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you" (Jeremiah 1:7-8; NIV 1984). With those words, God reaffirmed Jeremiah's place in His mission and offered Jeremiah the greatest encouragement one could ever receive—God would be with Jeremiah and would rescue him in his work. This means that regardless of how daunting the task before Jeremiah and regardless of the opposition he would face in speaking God's truth, God would sustain Jeremiah and provide the strength to carry on in truth.
Jeremiah was no different in his call to stand upon the truth of God than believers are today. Moreover, God has yet to change either. In the same manner that God promised to stay with and rescue Jeremiah, God will stay with you and rescue you as you continue to be an individual who stands in the truth of His Word. Yes, there will be uncomfortable and trying situations when you must stand upon God's truth even when God's truth runs opposed to the system of our current world. Yes, there will be times of doubt, times of ridicule, and times of rejection from those who are close to you and those who do not know you. However, the God who created heaven and earth is standing with you and will rescue you at His appointed time. Your job is to stand upon truth as an alien in this world and let the truth of God be evident in your life.
James Christopher Powell has served as assistant minister in Northwest Florida for ten years.
He studies at The Baptist College of Florida where he is working on a Master's degree in Christians Studies.
He married his wife Jennifer in March 2014.