I am strong. I am not one to shy away from conflict. I am outspoken. I like to ask people to be friends with me. I like to tell people the things I like about them - even if I don’t know their name. Although this might sound like a good thing, sometimes this trait can be perceived as too strong. When people point this out, I tend to shrink into my turtle shell and shut down, believing the lie that I need to change, that my personality is too much for others to handle.
Our culture has taught us that to love someone you need to accept them, all of them. Tolerance is key. The Bible teaches us the contrary. Love does not tolerate blatant sin. If someone, particularly a fellow believer, has a consistent sin issue: gossip, pride, anger, sexual immorality of any kind, slander, etc. it is our duty to say something.
I can date whoever I feel like dating…I need a boyfriend… It’s not really sex… I can’t handle the loneliness of staying pure. Those are some of the sexual lies that the book bluntly addresses while tactfully counteracting them with truth.
My phone background during my 10th grade year read simply, “Love Never Fails.” As a kid who grew up in the church, this reference to 1 Corinthians 13:8 seemed pretty cut and dry. However, as my friend picked up my phone, read my background, and said casually yet confidently, “That’s a lie!” my perspective shifted.
We all have those people in our lives who are difficult to love. You know who I’m talking about - It could be a co-worker, or an in-law, or a so-called friend. Something inside our stubborn hearts bristles at the thought of serving these people. But Jesus asks us to follow His example in loving those who make our lives difficult. God can work through these people to bring about our sanctification and to make us more like the image of His son.
One of my good friends and I decided we were going to change the meaning of New Year’s resolutions for ourselves. We decided to do one thing every day that scares us. We realized that we were letting fear control our life choices - fear of what others think, fear of failure, fear of rejection. Do I take a chance at failing and do this thing in front of me, or do I ignore it and go on with my life? This is much like Jonah’s situation.
You’re not good enough. You’re ugly. You’re not thin enough. You’re not smart enough. The voices get so loud that I can’t focus on anything else. As I stare into the mirror, the feeling that I’m worthless plagues my mind and suffocates me. My joy is gone. But what if our perspective meant more than our perfection?
Over Christmas break I watched the film The Greatest Showman in theaters. Any fans? P.T. Barnum is an excellent example of someone with a gumption for greatness. I had a film student open my eyes to this theme throughout the film. Hugh Jackman’s character showed initiative, resourcefulness, and sometimes shrewdness to make it possible for his entrepreneurial dreams to come true.
“Honey, if your friends were jumping off a bridge would you jump too?” Sheepishly we mumble a no and usually go pout for a little while as our brains catch up to our hearts and we realize that our parents might maybe be a little bit right.
Few of us actually care about what is true by God’s standard. Our sinful human nature wants to believe a truth that is popular. A truth that looks “close enough” to God’s truth but justifies something we previously knew was sin, or a truth that is more “enlightened” than God’s truth because it is more “loving” and less “judging”. We like playing God and defining truths like these. They are more comfortable truths. We enjoy living a deception that makes us feel better about ourselves and others.