The new you
Whenever you strive to be different than you once were, someone somewhere is not going to like the new you. For example, if at one time you were someone who partied, stayed out late, and used alcohol and drugs but you have recently given up your drinking, smoking, partying ways and instead now enjoy spending quiet time at home with your family, your old party crowd may not like the new you. They may consider you boring and no fun.
Or if you were once a junk food junkie who loved greasy fattening food and never said no to dessert but now you are trying to be more health conscious and have begun eating fruits and vegetables and more wholesome fare, your old dining companions will probably take note of your healthier lifestyle and might make flippant remarks about your new eating habits. "What's gotten into you? Are you on a diet or something?"
Perhaps at one time you were an unsaved person who followed the sins and trends and traditions of this ungodly world and just went along with the populace, but now you have given your life and your affections over to the Lord Jesus Christ and are striving to live obediently to God's Word and God's commandments. Well, guess what? People who knew the old hellbound you will probably not appreciate the changes taking place in your life either. Some of those old unsaved friends or family members will no longer "get" the changed you. Some of them will even begin to despise you or, at the very least, not feel comfortable around you.
You would think that people would be happy for you and that they would encourage any positive changes, but oftentimes this is not the case. Why? Because party people do not want any so-called party poopers quashing their good time. Unhealthy people do not want to feel self-conscious about their unhealthy habits. And unsaved sinful people do not want anyone around them whose presence might shed light on their sinful choices or bring to mind their need for a Savior. Worldly people want to continue on in darkness, and they want you to be in that same darkness.
And the interesting thing is that people are convicted of heart by your very actions. I'm not talking about people not liking the new you because you are going around trying to convert them to your way of thinking and living. Even if you have not said a word, people will not like the new you simply because your Christian light is shining.
I am reminded of a bible account found in Luke. Remember the man who was possessed with devils and Jesus cast the devils out of him and sent them into the swine? You would think that the multitudes would have been happy when they saw that the man was no longer devil possessed and was now in his right mind, but they were not happy at all. Let us read what the bible says happened: Luke 8:34-37, "When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country. Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed. Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again."
Did you see that? The crowd was not happy over the miracle that had been done in the man's life. It says the people were afraid of the changed man and that they wanted Jesus to leave. Yes, people hate the Light. People hate anything that excites a sense of guilt in them or that manifests their faults or reveals to them the changing power of Jesus. This is the way it has always been, and it is still apparent in our world today. This bible verse sums it up right here: "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved" (John 3:19-20).
And this theme is repeated throughout the bible. Sinful mankind hates Jesus and hates anyone who is striving to be a follower of Jesus. Here are a few more examples of believers who were rejected, misunderstood, and even killed because their Christian light was shining:
* Joseph's own brothers sold him into slavery.
* Stephen was stoned to death for sharing his faith.
* Moses' sister Miriam spoke hatefully against Moses and basically asked him who did he think he was.
* Paul's old associates tried to kill him when they saw that he had become a Christian.
* Abel was killed by his brother Cain. Why? 1 John 3:12, "Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous."
I would imagine that all of the aforementioned people loved the Lord and that they were just going about their days trying to live lives pleasing to God. They were just ordinary people who were born of sin but changed by God. They were really no different than you or I. But obviously some of their friends, family, or neighbors did not appreciate the changes that had taken place in their lives. And, my brothers and sisters in Christ, I want to remind you that you too will face opposition because of your Christian walk. Here are some verses that speak on this very thing:
Matthew 10:21-22, "And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."
Matthew 10:34-36, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household."
Psalm 37:32, "The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him."
And even if no one tries to physically slay you, they will try to slay you in other ways. They will talk about you behind your back and call your beliefs "rants." They will murmur about you with others and call you crazy. They will try to find fault in your Christian walk: "Oh, she calls herself a Christian, yet she does not do X, Y, or Z." Perhaps someone will try to hinder your advancement at your workplace because you are no longer "one of the boys." Whatever the case, again I repeat that you WILL face opposition because of your Christian walk.
But, friend, I hope that you do not cave in under the pressures of this world. Always remember that if you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, then His voice, His will, and His way are the only things that should matter. The only Person whom you need to please is the Lord. And if God be for you, you are richly blessed. It does not matter if other people (family or friends) do not like you or do not understand the new you or the choices you make. The masses did not like nor did they understand Jesus either. They crucified Him. Friend, as a Christian you are no longer of this world. You are just passing through. You have been adopted into God's family, and heaven is your real home. Do not get wrapped up in behavior, activities, or traditions that you know do not glorify God just so you can get along with man. God's Word tells us that we are to do just the opposite. Look at these verses:
Psalms 1:1-2 reads, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night."
Proverbs 4:14-15, "Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away."
Romans 12:1-2, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
Ephesians 4:17-18, "This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart."
Ephesians 5:8, 11-12, "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret."
Titus 2:11-14, "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
So in conclusion know that, yes, you might lose some old so-called friends, miss out on some family events, and be misunderstood by a host of other people because of the changes that have taken place in your life, but always remember that you have been adopted into the Lord's family. God will never turn His back on you. Your Heavenly Father is the one who gave you that new heart, is guiding you in your new walk, and is proud of the new you! So keep striving, keep earnestly contending for the faith, and keep letting your Christian light shine. And remember, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)
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