Passage: 1 John 2:15-16
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (v.16 – NASB)
I felt a bit like a school girl when our leader announced that Mandisa was part of our group. I didn’t recognize her, sitting quietly at the corner of the small room. Oh, this is going to be good, I thought. Now I will have to speak in front of ten seasoned speakers AND Mandisa. I looked at the door and was tempted to run for it. That’s when our leader told us that Mandisa was going to be part of our group, as a participant.
Since that day last summer, I have made it a point to follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and have encouraged my girls to download her music to their IPods. My oldest daughter went to her first Christian conference last month and had the opportunity to see her in concert. She was impressed by her music, but most of all, by her personality and transparency on stage. She shared “Overcomer”, her newest album, which I’ve since heard a million times, as my girls twirl around the house, dancing to its tunes.
But last week Mandisa took my admiration of her work and personality to a new level. As many of you know, Overcomer won the Best Contemporary Christian Album and Song of the Year in the Grammy Awards. I did not watch the show, but found out about the win on her Facebook page.
As her name was announced, Mandisa did not walk towards the stage to receive the statue. Instead, she was miles away, at her house, watching the Award ceremony on live streaming. Naturally, the question started popping all over the internet: Why did she choose not to be present for the ceremony?
In a Facebook post from January 27, she explains the reasons as to why she chose not to go. They are all very good reasons, but one in particular stood out as I read her post:
“Finally, the fourth reason I chose not to attend this year: Yes, both times I have gone to the Grammys I have witnessed performances I wish I could erase from my memory, and yes, I fast forwarded through several performances this year; but my reason is not because of them, it’s because of me. I have been struggling with being in the world, not of it lately. I have fallen prey to the alluring pull of flesh, pride, and selfish desires quite a bit recently. (…) I knew that submerging myself into an environment that celebrates those things was risky for me at this time. I am taking steps to renew my mind to become the Heavenly Father-centered, completely satisfied with Jesus, and Holy Spirit-led woman I felt I was a few months ago, but I’m feeling a bit like an infant learning to walk again on shaky legs.”
I paused and smiled. Her entire post is inspiring, but this last part takes the cake. It made me think of how easy it is for anyone to fall prey to the alluring pull of all-things-flesh. We are called to be in the world, but not of the world (John 15:19). We were chosen to be light in the darkness, but often let the darkness around us dim our light. Mandisa humbly recognized that and chose to pull away for a season of renewal and refocus.
Underestimating our weaknesses…
Anyone can fall. We have seen it in the lives of prominent figures such as Miley Cyrus, Whitney Houston and others, who were raised in church. We have witnessed it in the lives of several church leaders, pastors, as well as common folks like you and me.
“How did it happen?” we ask. I believe the answer is simple: It happens one small decision at a time.
“Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?” 1 Corinthians 5:6b
The appeals of the flesh are near us every day. The devil has an army dedicated to luring the saints into temptation, compromise and ultimately, defeat. Unfortunately, too many of us fall into the deception that a little bit of this or that will not harm anyone. What a lie! Truthfully, a small step is all it takes to enter the road that leads us away from God’s best.
There is a reason I choose to stand in a place of no gray areas, where everything looks either black or white when it comes to moral standards. I’ve been labeled as overprotective of my children and narrow-minded in my beliefs. I guess for all worldly standards, indeed I am. That hat fits me and I prefer it that way. Why? Because I am not so foolish to think that falling into Satan’s deceitful traps of compromise is beyond me. As a Christian, I lived for many years dangerously spreading my feet between the Rock and the unsteady ground of old habits and compromises. That position left me, well, out of balance, so to speak.
I believe that maintaining a worldly lifestyle creates a divided mind, a confused heart and a life filled with double standards. In order to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth, we must let God’s Word define and strengthen our boundaries, so that we are able to maintain them. His Word leaves no room for moral confusion. Right is right. Wrong is wrong. Our flesh will often be drawn towards sin. We must know our weaknesses in order to recognize when we need to draw back, regroup and refocus.
So here is a good question to ponder: Do I feel attracted to worldly things? Is there something that I know is a weakness, a temptation or stumbling block in my life?
If something comes to mind, it may just be a good time to follow Mandisa’s brave example and take a step back out of the environments that are influencing us. Maybe it is time to refocus and ask the Father to strengthen and guide us, so that when we do step into the world (as we are called to do), we are able to effectively and irresistibly shine Jesus’ light to those who are trapped in darkness.
Verses to Ponder:
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” Matthew 5:13-15 (NASB)
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
“For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.” Ephesians 5:8