Eugene Peterson, in his book, THE PASTOR, tells the story of a grade-school bully. He relates how he had grown up learning to forgive and to love his enemies. This made sense until the school bully turned his attention to Eugene and began to make him a target. He tells of the day when he could take it no more. “That’s when it happened. Totally uncalculated. Totally out of character. Something snapped within me,” says Peterson. He grabbed the bully, found he was stronger and beat him up.
Reflecting on this “Pastor Pete” says, ‘Garrison Johns (the bully) was my introduction into the world, the “world that is not my home.’ He was also my introduction to how effortlessly that same ‘world’ could get into me, making itself perfectly at home under cover of my Christian language and ‘righteous’ emotions.” (p.48)
It is difficult to escape conviction after reading this last statement. The world does get into us. It is relentless. We cannot afford to believe we are impervious to the invasion of compromised values that ever so slightly move us toward a destructive lifestyle.
Our best defense is choosing moment by moment to walk with our Father, following the example of Jesus and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit. I have seen those who would outwardly appear to be good Christians be some of the meanest people I know. Why? In their effort to live for God they chose to live by their own rules rather than in live in relationship with our God who invites us to love Him, ourselves and others.
In what ways is the world “making itself perfectly at home,” in you? It’s a question I’m asking myself today.