"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2
Sometimes, following Jesus takes not just Faith, but courage. We, as Christian's, are called to go against the grain. We are called to stand up for what is right and good, regardless of what other people may think of us.
The bible is full of messages of courage, bravery and drawing on God's strength, and for good reason...we need it!
It's so easy to join in with others and go with the majority, even though we know that they are wrong. We see this every day. Bullies go unchallenged by their peers due to fear of becoming their next target. People join in with gossip in order to stay relevant. We have all seen it happen, whether at school or in our adult lives...but how many of us have had the courage to stand up and say "stop"?.
How many of us have had our opinion of someone changed based on what a friend has said to us about them? We can be manipulated into thinking that it is justifiable to bully and put people down because "did you hear that they did/ they said this?". If everyone else thinks that a person is horrible, do we tend to agree without finding out for ourselves? Of course we do! Or at the very least our opinion of that person is changed. Other people's opinions matter to us. We want to be liked, we want to be in "the in crowd". We tend to agree to avoid making waves. It takes a great strength to challenge a peer, a friend, a colleague, or even a leader, in any situation.
How many of us have had our opinions of OURSELVES changed based on what others have said about us? A worship leader in my church once said to the congregation "sing loud...and if you think that you can't sing then you are wrong, you only think that you can't because someone once told you that." I wonder how many others things there are that we think we can't do just because someone has once knocked our confidence and told us that we can't?
What if David had listened to King Saul when he told him "you are not able to go out against this philistine and fight him, you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth."? (1 Samuel 17:33). David knew that he was the one who could defeat Goliath. He knew that God was on his side, even if noone else believed in him.
What if Ruth had listened to Naomi when she told her to "Go back to your mother's home."? It would have been normal practice for her to return to her family, it would have been expected. But Ruth knew that her place was with Naomi, and in staying with Naomi she met and married Boaz, and went on to have a son. That son was Obed, David's grandfather.
If Rosa Parks hadn't stood up for what she knew was right, black Americans might still be forced to sit at the back of the bus. If Emmeline Pankhurst hadn't stood her ground then women might still not be able to vote.
One decision to be brave and stand up for what is good and what we know is right can lead to amazing outcomes. Courage spreads like fire, one person encouraging another. All it takes is one person.
Jesus is that one person who stood up for what was right, regardless of what others thought of Him.
When Jesus was in Jericho, he left a city with a large crowd following him. They walked past a blind man, Bartimaeus, who was begging on the side of the road. Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was in the crowd and he shouted out to him. The bible says that many people rebuked him...in other words, they criticized and showed their disapproval of the man begging on the side of the road. Jesus told the man to come to him, and the crowd quickly changed their tune! "Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you!" (Mark 10:46). Jesus wouldn't have just passed by the man and ignored his calls for help, I have a feeling that he waited for the reaction of the crowd before calling the man to Him. He showed the crowd what was right and led by example.
Through prayer and reflection, through listening to how God guides us, through reading the bible, we can know what His Will is, and yet others will try to persuade us to conform to their opinions and their idea of what is right.
Jesus told us that the most important commandments are to love God and love others. We are told to encourage and build one another up. We are told to stand up for the poor and the oppressed. When other peoples opinions or actions go against what Jesus taught us, then we must keep our focus on Him and go against the grain. Like Jesus, we must be the ones to go against the crowd and do what is right.
There is a message going viral on social media right now; "Be Kind".
This should be a no-brainer, but unfortunatley we live in a world where people will put others down to make themselves seem better. It took the tragic death of a woman for people to start standing up and saying "that's enough". If only someone had stood up sooner.
"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love." 1 Corinthians 16:13-14