Remember learning to drive? What was the most nerve-racking part for you? Parallel parking? Night driving? Using the mirrors? For me (this might sound silly to some), it was merging.
There were a couple of roads where I was required to merge with heavy traffic on a regular basis, and I hated it. I had to gauge how fast everyone else was moving, use my mirrors, look around to make sure I was clear, watch for an opportunity to move over and accelerate while matching my speed with that of those around me. The merge lanes never seemed long enough. The object of merging is to integrate your vehicle into the flow of traffic with no disruption and as seamlessly as possible.
I thought about this yesterday while driving, and then another thought crossed my mind, “Do I ever merge with my surroundings spiritually?” Perhaps, and perhaps you do too. Do you ever find yourself gauging what is going on around you, see what direction everyone else is moving in, and watch for an opportunity to “merge.” Your goal may be to integrate yourself into the flow with no disruption and as seamlessly as possible. Merging is a good skill when driving, but damaging if we try to match our spiritual pace with that of the world, hoping to fit its model of behavior.
Surely we must choose our battles, and we are to be the examples of citizenship, but there are instances where a stand for Christ is necessary; we cannot afford to merge. Our citizenship extends beyond the worldly bounds (Philippians 3:20), and the world is passing away (I John 2:17). Since this is true, why does the concern to integrate ourselves into the mix, without being seen or noticed, consume so much of our time?
“But,” some would say, “I don’t want to be seen and noticed. I don’t want to be an example. Why can’t I just live my life and make as few waves as possible?” God doesn’t tell us to merge with the life of the world, but to emerge from the life of the world by the power of Christ. This type of life isn’t a matter of making overt attempts to stand out intentionally (“individuality for the sake of individuality”). If our lives are empowered by Jesus, he will stand out through us. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). You can’t be a camouflage Christian and stand out for Christ. He has called us to be the “light of the world.”
We can never hope to merge with the world and be united with Christ at the same time.
Have you worked to keep your relationship with Christ unseen and hidden? Do you avoid any situations where your faith might be known? Do you boldly stand for Christ, even when the “flow of traffic” is moving in the other direction? Who dictates your speed and direction, Jesus or the world?
We will live as a people set apart for God. – 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
We would be witnesses of the goodness and grace of God in a world that needs to see Jesus in us. – Philippians 2:15 That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
We would never be ashamed of the message of Jesus. – Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.