"I've Been Squeezed"
Romans 12:2 - Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Someone has written, "We do not know who discovered water, but we may be sure it was not a fish." Living in any environment long enough can blind one to the obvious.
Most Christians when asked to name the arch enemies of their faith would doubtlessly reply, "The devil, the world, and our flesh." We live through daily struggles with what we know to be our flesh. Often Satan, though invisible, can be discerned by his action in our lives. But the third enemy, the "world," plays hide-and-seek with us, camouflaged by its familiarity. We find ourselves immersed in it as surely as the proverbial fish -- often oblivious to its influence on us.
Jesus tells us that we are in the world, but not of the world. He warns us not to be surprised at the world's hatred. His warnings refer to the ordered system of beliefs, values, viewpoints, customs, and behaviors embraced by Satan and his children.
To understand this world system as it exists today, watch TV, read billboards, examine magazine ads, with these questions in mind. What's really being sold here? What's the hidden message? What values lie behind the words?
Fashionable clothing, electronic devices, and breakfast drinks are often are not the real subject at all. Rather, the ads shout about the importance of outward appearances, the happiness to be found in owning things, the priorities of power and winning at any cost, the pleasures of self.
One Bible translation paraphrases Romans 12:2 in an interesting way: "Don't let the world squeeze you into its own mold." Too often, though we do find our convictions and standards squeezed, pinched, compromised -- perhaps ever so slightly -- so that we can ease ourselves into the mold the world has designed.
The apostle John warns that the world system lies in the power of Satan. Then he describes the only way to live free from this system. He says in 1 John 5:20: "And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life."
God's children have the truth of God's Word as opposed to Satan's lies. If we are in Jesus, we are protected; in Him we have been rescued from the world system. That truth must saturate our lives daily. We cannot, we dare not, dillydally at the edges of God's Word. Immersion in that Word, drinking deeply of the water of life every day, will keep us strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. There is victory. There is power. There is freedom from the confines of the world's mold -- but only in Jesus.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, the world presses us on all sides. Grant us wisdom to discern what is good and acceptable and worthy in Your eyes, and let us seek these things. In Your Name we pray. Amen.
From The Lutheran Layman, July 1983 issue, "I've Been Squeezed" by Jane Fryar
Today's Bible Readings: Jeremiah 31-32 Hebrews 8
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