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It Started with 50 Shades of Grey . . .

Written By Rebecca Chan, Malaysia

It was just another day in class. During one of our lessons, I heard my non-Christian friend invite some of my Christian classmates to watch the American erotic romance film, 50 Shades of Grey. To my astonishment and dismay, my classmates got really excited and accepted the request, without (so much as) a second thought.

Later that day, I plucked up the courage to ask one of the guys (who used to serve in a Christian leadership position) why he would want to watch the movie, knowing it went completely against what God created love and relationships to be. “Well, it can’t really be that bad because the girl allowed the guy to torture her that way,” he said nonchalantly. I was astounded. Taking pleasure in watching these things was one thing, but to actually agree with the values the show propagated and deny that they were wrong was something else altogether.

His statement got me thinking about what it means to be a Christian in this day and age. Today, we face the challenge of compromising our Christian principles to get something we want, coming up with excuses to make ourselves feel better. We may feel that it is okay to use crude words and swear because “everyone else is using it.” Or to use God’s name in vain because “we’re not using His real name anyway.” Or to watch, read and indulge in witchcraft and wizardry because “it’s not real anyway.” Or to work on a Sunday for extra income because “I can always go to church next week, no biggie.” Or to support the LGBT movement because “God didn’t specifically use words like gay or lesbian anyway.”

But is it really okay? How does God feel about our compromise?

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3:16-27) were three young men who refused to bow to social pressure. With a powerful King threatening them, many nations watching them, a furnace seven times hotter than usual waiting to consume them, no one would fault them if they changed their minds. All they had to do was to bow down to an idol right? No big deal. All the other Jews were doing it, so why not just go with the flow? Isn’t majority always right?

However, these three men decided that they would not betray the God who saved His people and brought them out of Egypt. They would not disobey the God who provided for them in the wilderness. They would not reject the God who won the impossible battles for them. Instead, they chose to obey God—and as a result God was glorified.

Just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, let us obey God who suffered immensely to redeem us. Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, our bodies are now a temple of the Holy Spirit. If God lives in us, if He dwells within us, shouldn’t we strive to live godly lives? Shouldn’t we do our best to please the one living inside us rather than those on the outside?

Standing by our Christian principles will not be easy. It will be like swimming against the tide. However, we are not alone and we are not without resources. God has given us His Holy Spirit to help us live a holy life. And He has given us His Word, which is a light for our path (Psalm 119:105). As we spend time reading and meditating on His Word, our minds will be renewed and we will no longer conform to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2).

So let us not take His grace and mercy for granted; rather may we strive to be everything He made us to be, living each day as if it is our last and as children who know God and want to make Him known.

ODJ: Not Losing Our Way

March 30, 2016 

READ: Judges 2:1-15 

They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them (v.12).

A newly elected senator vows to be a new kind of politician, but by the time he runs again he’s in the pocket of special interest groups. An actress goes to Hollywood to star in wholesome movies, but soon she compromises. Both started out trying to reach the world, but instead they lost their way.

This was Israel’s problem during the time of the Judges. Israel entered the Promised Land from the mountains in the east. They could have remained in those mountains, safe and isolated from the cosmopolitan, advanced culture in the coastal plain. But an international trade route ran through the coastal plain. If God was going to reach the world with His message of salvation, His people would have to move into the land.

As the Israelites moved down and their enemies went up, they met in the central hill country, called the Shephalah. There the Israelites “failed to drive out the people living in the plains” (Judges 1:19). Instead, they were content to live among them (2:2). They “intermarried with them,” and “the Israelites [began to serve] their gods” (Judges 3:6). God sent His angel to pronounce judgment (2:4). Because Israel disobeyed and didn’t destroy the pagan altars, their neighbors’ idolatry would remain as “a constant temptation” and as a thorn in their side (vv.2-3).

What’s your “Shephalah”? Who are you trying to reach for Jesus? It might seem easier to sit back in what you feel is a safe place, but God has called us to take His message to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). And He is with us in our “Shephalah.” Bathe yourself in prayer. Be accountable to someone—making sure you’re bringing His light and love to the world, while not compromising or losing your way.

—Mike Wittmer

365-day-plan: 1 Samuel 20:1-42

MORE
Read Judges 16:4- 21 to learn of some temptations that can destroy us in the “Shephalah.” 
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Where have you been tempted to compromise your Christian values? What area of your life do you need to recommit to Jesus today? 

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