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Will You Jump Into the Lake Too?

by Robert Berendt
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When I was a little boy my mother would often caution us against blindly following the lead of others. She would say, “If everyone else jumps into the lake, does that mean that you should too?” The answer for many people is “Yes!”

We are strongly influenced by people around us. We have lived to see the millions in Germany following the goosestep of a fanatic dictator to early graves and ruined lives. We read about the tens of thousands that marched together into disillusionment and suffering in the armies of the Crusades, Napoleon and Genghis Khan. We know of the millions who devoted their lives to the growth of communism.

It is obvious in clothing fads and activities we engage in that we are followers. “Where you lead me I will follow,” are the words that we used to say as little children when thinking of Jesus Christ. But in reality, the “many” follow paths that the majority takes. They sincerely believe they are doing right and good (Proverbs 14:12). It is rare to find a person who makes his or her choices based on logic, observation, good advice, and, most importantly, the holy scriptures. When a person determines to do the right thing, no matter what, that person is showing signs of strength and the ability to think clearly.

In 1 Corinthians 15:33, God inspired Paul to caution members not to be deceived. The sayings “evil company corrupts good habits” or “one rotten apple can spoil the barrel” help us remember certain guidelines to living well. One good apple will not change the bad apples to good ones. Yet, so many Christians naively believe that this can happen. Young people’s energy, zeal and enthusiasm is vital to progress and, when properly directed, results in success and accomplishments. For most, this exuberance is often manipulated and used for purposes that result in disillusionment, regret, and pain. Humanity has not yet learned that there is only one way to live – God’s way.

Our attitudes and beliefs need to be guarded and inspected often. It is a human tendency to avoid the effort often needed to reach the highest levels of a relationship with God. It’s not easy or natural to stand against the whole society about us. But that’s what God expects of us! God gives clear guidelines for a lifestyle that promotes liberty and happiness. Liberty carries responsibility and ought not to be confused with license. In John 17:14-15, Jesus asked the Father to keep His people from the evil one. He said his followers “are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” He loves the people of this world and is determined to end the blindness, hard-heartedness, greed and other vices that plague our societies.

The easiest thing to do is to go along. “Don’t rock the boat” people say, but Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it” (Matthew 7:13). God didn’t leave room for those who eagerly jump into the lake with everyone else. Forcing us to think for ourselves guided by His Word, and to think correctly, is one of the tasks God has taken unto Him. We all have the freedom to reject God’s word because He wants free “children of obedience” in His family (1 Peter 1:14). He wants those who can make right decisions guided by His spirit. This is not much diff e rent than a scientist learning to think for himself, but guided by the laws of science. He would be insane to work without knowing and using the laws of the physical universe around him. Most people are content to let someone else think for them in so many vital aspects of life. Some bury their heads in the sand their whole lives.

God did not promise an easy life. He said it would take courage and determination to enter eternal life. Developing these and other powerful and valuable character points pleases God greatly. Jesus Christ was perfected by what he suffered. Since we are to walk in his footsteps, we too are allowed to suffer sometimes.

1 Peter 5:1 is a strong admonition to the elders given the privilege of serving the children God has chosen. This is a huge responsibility. Peter goes on to say in verses 6-10 to allow God to lead us. We are to be serious and thoughtful in how we conduct our lives; we are to steadfastly look to God for guidance. Since Satan is God’s adversary, he is our adversary too. As we yield to God and resist the ways of this world, God will in due time perfect, establish and strengthen us.

It does us good to take a firm and strong stand based on “truth.” It builds character. To follow the lamp of goodness, justice and righteousness, honesty and outgoing concern, no matter what the cost, is the only way to liberty and peace. Sleep is sweet for those who allow God to do His handiwork in their lives.

How about you? Are you standing on the edge of the lake watching others jump in? Will you jump in too? We have too much work to waste our years watching others. Let us be about our Father’s business and let us keep our wits about us at every turn of the road. We are to come out of this world. The difficult path then becomes the most beautiful and satisfying.

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