Friday, 18 November 2011

Living in this world

I was talking at church with a friend who, like me, has recently been blessed with seeing her child baptized. Her daughter, now aged 12, had been asking about baptism for more than a year, but her parents, along with the Childrens' Pastor, had wanted to make sure she fully understood the meaning and significance before she went ahead. She gave a moving testimony, expressing truths about her faith and the gospel message with childlike simplicity which brought lumps to the throat and tears to the eye.

This was a few months ago. Since then, the parents have noticed a marked difference in their daughter. Her faith is playing a much greater part in her life, her interactions with family members and others are more measured and considerate, and she is spending more time with friends from church. All in all, she is an excellent young disciple.

Her desire for holiness is admirable and Biblical. As Peter wrote:
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."

-- 1 Peter 1:14-16 ESV
But there are also trends which are less commendable. Along with spending more time with church friends, she is able to spend less time with non-church people, and is in danger of losing several long-term 'best friends' who have been part of her life for many years. She's turned her back on elements of popular culture because they're 'not Christian', is refusing to study set literature at school because it contains references to war or other religions, and has stopped going to soccer practice because there are no other Christians on the team. She's withdrawing from the world into a Christian bubble.

The girl's parents have had to teach her what we all have to remember - as Christians we are called to live our lives in a secular world. Whilst it's warm and comforting to be around fellow believers all the time, that's not fulfilling our calling. When the Holy Spirit first came upon them, the early disciples didn't sit around in the upper room discussing their faith, they did as Christ commanded in Matthew 28:19 - they went out to make disciples of all nations.

My friend's daughter will make many disciples during her time in this world. The biggest impact she will have is when she realises that living her Christian life amongst non-Christians is not only what Christ called us to do, it is one of the most powerful ways of spreading God's love.

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