What would you choose? To yield to the pressure of the crowd to do something that reflects poorly on Jesus in you, only to beat yourself up over it later? Or, refuse to yield to that pressure, making it very awkward for yourself in those moments, with some discomfort later?
Which did I choose? This time, I stood firm in my convictions. Though I realized others were squirming – at least inside – because of my choice, it really wasn’t so hard. No one chastised me for it, but I struggled for a while with the fleshly discomfort of standing apart from the crowd.
How much better this discomfort than what I have felt repeatedly in the past, in those times I chose to do contrary to the Lord’s will for me. Those were the times I opened the door wide to guilt and condemnation – such cruel and unrelenting taskmasters! Because I chose to be acceptable to others, I ended up living under oppression – a much more difficult thing to overcome emotionally. In those times, I joined ranks with my accuser as he taunted me with such statements as, “You knew better than that! Why didn’t you stand against the pressure? You’re never going to make any progress in God if you can’t resist even the little things!”
I’ve had many more experiences with oppression than fleshly discomfort; yet, from this single instance, I found standing apart with Jesus Christ to be so much more rewarding (and easier). It has helped me decide I’d really rather be alone with Jesus than in a stadium full of people ignoring Him; however, looking with the eyes of His Spirit, I see I’m not alone at all. Many more are standing apart with Him in all kinds of settings all over the world.
Maybe one of the others who followed the crowd this time, when I stood apart to follow Jesus, will have the courage to choose to stand apart with Him next time.
Matthew 7:24-25 NIV Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.