33 After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” 34 But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” 36 Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.” Mark 9:33-37
In the Netflix show, Stranger Things, there's a place called the Upside Down. The main characters discover this place as a complete opposite and horrific reflection of their own world. So if you were standing in a beautiful park, that park would look all run down, dark and destroyed in the Upside Down. It's the evil doppelganger of real life, essentially.
While watching that show, it gave me inspiration for this post on an observation I've heard several times. Myself being a Christian, I have observed that I live in a world that is completely opposed to what God's word teaches, and does the contrary. Daily, I make decisions that go sideways to how others are living.
If a follower of Christ is acting just like a non-believer, I would doubt their salvation. That's not "judging" someone, but it's looking at the fruit which their tree is bearing.
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Matthew 7:15-20
My life is not always surrounded by those who believe what I believe, which honestly I like because it keeps me aware of a world that needs God's love and salvation. While at work, out at a store, an event, or meeting new people, it can be interesting to see how different beliefs can clash at times.
For example, I don't cuss, drink, smoke, or commit various other vices. When I start talking to people that do, they get a little taken aback when I tell them I don't do those things anymore.
Recently there was a staff get-together at my school (I teach special education at a large charter school), and a few of the teachers were jokingly asking if I drink. I said no, but I drink a lot of water! They laughed and asked if my wife drank which I said no, she didn't. Again, they thought it was funny but were a little shocked that neither of us did.
Another example is when I have a student who asks me, "Do you ever cuss?". I always reply "no, but I used to, I just don't anymore", and they can't believe that I don't use foul language. It's just not part of my vocabulary anymore, even though I used to a whole lot!
God's Kingdom has commandments, laws, and promises that will bless us if we just follow them. To the outside world, we will always look weird when we don't do what most do. Even when it comes to health or other disciplines, you will often get a laugh or a shocked look. Try telling someone you go to the gym, don't drink soda, and rarely eat out because you want to stay healthy and see the kinds of responses you get.
As a Christian, I live in an upside-down world. God's ways are not the world's ways.
I need to be humble when common advice is to push your way through and get to the top, no matter who you step on.
6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” James 4:6
I shouldn't tell the whole world when I do a good deed, because God will not reward me for it.
1 When you do good deeds, don’t try to show off. If you do, you won’t get a reward from your Father in heaven. 2 When you give to the poor, don’t blow a loud horn. That’s what show-offs do in the meeting places and on the street corners, because they are always looking for praise. I can assure you that they already have their reward. 3 When you give to the poor, don’t let anyone know about it. 4 Then your gift will be given in secret. Your Father knows what is done in secret, and he will reward you. Matthew 6:1-4
There are so many promises that God offers those that follow Him. Blessings instead of curses, peace instead of depression and worry, hope instead of despair, salvation instead of isolation from our Heavenly Father.
Living in His kingdom brings rewards, but it also makes us deny certain pleasures that the world drinks from daily. It's worth it though because while they are left empty and seeking an answer, we have the answer and His name is Jesus Christ.