“Others can, but you cannot.” Does this describe your Christian experience? Have you ever wondered why some sincere Christians do things that your conscience will not let you do? If so, find encouragement in this blog.
My Experience – I Could Not, But Others Could
I had no doubt that I met God on the night of my conversion. The next morning everything was different. The smoking and drinking stopped. The self-harming stopped, and the suicidal thoughts left along with the depression. I stopped taking the antidepressants immediately. God delivered me from all these things. I began my Christian journey with this new freedom.
After the summer break, I went back to university and began attending the university’s Christian Union. It met on Friday nights on campus. Soon I became acquainted with some student Christians. After one Christian Union meeting, they invited me to go to the pub with them.
“Will you be drinking?” I asked.
“Of course we will,” James, the group’s spokesperson said. He sounded mildly amusement by my question.
“How can you go out drinking? I thought Christians weren’t supposed to drink.”
James’ came alongside me. “No, that’s a misconception, God’s made all things to be enjoyed, including alcohol.”
I felt his shoulder next to mine. We walked toward the group who stood chatting warmly by the exit. Something did not seem right. The Lord had delivered me from depression and the bondage of alcohol. Why would he deliver me from the same thing he was allowing my Christian acquaintances to partake in?
“Look, Robert.” James noticed my hesitancy and stopped. “There’s nothing wrong with enjoying some alcohol. It’s drunkenness that’s bad.”
I wanted to go, but my conscience would not let me. What had Jesus said to Peter about John? “What’s it to you if I want him to remain until I come back. You follow me.” (John 21.20-23) Those words resounded in my mind. What was it to me if the Lord was allowing some Christians to do some things that he was not allowing me to do. My duty was to follow and obey him.
They went cheerfully on their way. Later that night, I saw those same Christians staggering home drunk.
Following Jesus – Why You Cannot, But Others Can
This experience used alcohol as an example, but there are other examples I could use. I understand that people are at different stages of their Christian journey. A part of this is to do with their background and the religious tradition they are a part of. It also has a lot to do with the process of sanctification in their lives as they pray, read the bible, and seek after God. So, in no way do I want to condemn anyone by what I am saying here. However, it is my experience, and the experience of many Christians I have met over the years, that some things in life are permissible for some Christians, while they are not permissible for others. It is for those of you who have experienced this dilemma to which I write.
Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” (Matthew 16:24-25, NLT)
This infers a life of humility and obedience to Jesus. It paints a wonderful picture of laying down what is ours, picking up what is his, and following him. Moreover, because you are following him, Jesus may not allow you to follow other Christians and join them in what they are doing.
You may have noticed that some Christians seem very religious and spiritual. Yet they are aggressive in their endeavors, push others aside, pull wires to get to the top, and work schemes to become successful. However, if you tried these things you would fail and feel penitent. Others Christians may boast in themselves, their work, or their success. However, for some reason, the Holy Spirit will not allow you to boast. When you do boast, your heart is convicted and you see all your good works as filthy rags before the working of the Holy Spirit.
You may see others around you receiving a promotion, while you toil behind the scenes unnoticed. But this will make your work more precious, and Jesus will reward you even more. Some flowers cannot bloom in the scorching heat. They need the shade. Likewise, the Lord will keep you hidden away and protected because he wants you to bloom into a beautiful flower and bear precious fruit.
God wants you to experience more in life than material things, success, and wealth. He wants you to experience a dependence on him that is close to helplessness. He wants to have the privilege of supplying all your needs day-to-day. Therefore, the Holy Spirit watches over you with a jealous love. He will rebuke you for the little things which do not concern other Christians. He may not explain the reasons for this. Just take him at his word in the same way he took you at your word when you said you would follow him. You, follow him.
The bible says, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10.31, NLT) This is the litmus test for Christian behavior and action. Sometimes Christians are not sure what is the right decision to make or how they should act in certain situations. Ask yourself, am I doing this for the glory of God? Can God put his stamp of approval on what I am doing, or going to do, or how I behaved? If you can wholeheartedly say “yes” to these questions, then take comfort that your actions came from a good conscience.