Many people believe it's their mission in life to tell everyone what to do and how to believe, and I'm sure there have been times when we have been guilty of something similar. There are situations when we feel that individuals need sound advice, and this might be true, but it's also common to forget that everyone has a right to think and live however they want.
Christians do not intend to be insulting, but sometimes their message can be offensive. In rare cases, some end up living in isolation because everyone intentionally avoids them. It's true serious Christians have a burden and really care about others, but sometimes they take matters into their own hands and do not wait for God to guide them. It becomes even worse when concern turns to condemnation or even hatred for what someone else believes, which no matter how civil and courteous it might appear, no one can walk in the peace of God and embrace unforgiveness at the same time.
Since the beginning of history, humans have drawn religious and political lines in the sand and dared the other side to cross over, as strife and judgment is embedded within our nature. Unfortunately, being divided is so common that we would not comprehend how to act any other way. Jesus talks about how we should display spiritual love instead of being led by our emotions, but, sadly, instead of accepting his guidelines for charitable living, many who boldly call themselves his disciples believe it's their responsibility to fight against anyone whose theological, social or political views are contrary to their own.
You and I are never going to save anyone because only God can do that. We can instruct those who want to learn and demonstrate what we believe, but that is about the extent of it.
For those who are convinced they know everything, it's nearly impossible to gain their respect. In the rare situation that anyone has ever listened to you and followed your suggestions, you should consider it a miracle. Even counselors who are paid handsomely from those who are seeking advice will confess it's sporadic that anyone follows what they suggest. This reveals why Jesus has such a small following as the Scripture relays that "narrow is the way to eternal life and few there be that will find it."
Speaking of choices, the Bible is filled with stories and insights that illustrate the beauty of obedience and the negative consequences of rebellion. We are reminded of the simple illustration of a child who behaves badly and is disciplined, while another follows instructions and is rewarded. The concept of good and evil is associated with an obedient person who follows God's divine order even if it means personal sacrifice, while the disobedient individual who lives independently is content to trust their emotions and base every decision on what they want to do.
So what have we as Christians been called to do, and how can we help a world of people who couldn't care less about God? Well, you can search for yourself, but I'm convinced the meaning of life is to yield our will to God. With many years of thought behind this answer, I have not found anything more important than to know, love and obey the Lord.
Matthew 22:36-38 says, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus replied, love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment."
The Bible advises everyone to seek out their own salvation with fear and trembling because the decisions we make today will have a direct impact on our next life. This is a reality we can choose to explore, or we can continue ignoring and hoping for the best, which, by the way, is the foundation of freewill.
For the Christian, freewill includes how intimate we want to be to God. However, accepting the responsibility of being a representative for his kingdom does not allow compromising our faith or playing both sides of the fence. Yes, it's difficult to live in a state of spiritual sensitivity, but if we desire to be pleasing to the Lord, it will always be in direct cooperation with the Holy Spirit.
After all is said and done, our spiritual success will be determined by our love and devotion to God.
William F. Holland Jr. is a minister and chaplain based in Nicholasville, Kentucky. Learn how to receive a free Scripture CD at billyhollandministries.com.