Sometimes it seems like it would be so much easier to just give in and be like the world. Have you had times when it would have been simpler to just not obey the Lord, compromise and submit to the world’s values instead of keeping Christ’s ideals? I think everyone has faced that temptation and many have surrendered to it. Some have relinquished to it and never come back to becoming the image of Christ. Do you look like the world or do you look like Christ?
It isn’t always easy to maintain that difference from the world. As the Holy Spirit changes you, you become more and more distinct from the mass and look more like Jesus. The mainstream hates Jesus, so they will hate you. It is natural to want to be liked by people but we are not called to be liked by people, we are called to love people like Jesus loves us. That tangible love through the hate that is obeying God, that is what makes us different, and that is what brings people into the Kingdom.
God has encouragement for you in this chapter. Jesus is coming back and when He does our transformation will be complete and our hope will be made solid. Verses 1-2 tell us to keep justice and do righteousness, to refrain from evil and keep the Sabbath holy, and soon God’s righteousness will be revealed. He isn’t commanding us to be legalistic and ritualistic, He is telling us to do good, to love, and worship Him. He is telling us to love with Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
I think most everyone goes through a period when they think they are not Christian enough. That is a lie to weaken your faith and ruin your impact. God encourages us that if we are in a relationship with Him that He is with us and nothing and no one can change that. His reward for you is the same as His reward for all His precious children.
Sometimes people think they have let the Lord down somehow, when really they are not living up to what people say they should be. Eunuchs were men who had been either born with some physical defect causing them to be unable to perform sexually or had been castrated for service. Some men chose it, some were emasculated against their will. The law excluded eunuchs from inclusion in the assembly. (Deuteronomy 23:1) Yet, verses 4-5 say,
“For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
5 I will give in my house and within my walls
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.”
And Jesus, in Matthew says that all eunuchs who receive the word. (Mathew 19:12). The eunuch may feel less than, because he is unable to marry and have children and because he was not originally allowed even to enter the assembly of the Lord but God’s new covenant not only invites him in but promises him rewards that make up for his suffering on earth. (A note: being a eunuch was never a sin, nowhere in the Bible does it refer to it as a sin. Being a eunuch is not synonymous with homosexuality. The Bible never uses the terms interchangeably.)
It is like that for you too. All are welcome in God. No one is excluded from the invitation and if you cling to salvation by Jesus’ blood you will receive your reward too. If your faith is shaky, hang on to the promises of God’s unswerving love. You may be wobbly or insecure but God never is. He is steadfast, strong, and sure. Let God’s resolute and unfaltering love and faith strengthen you. Verses 6-8 read,
“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
and holds fast my covenant--
7 these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.”
8 The Lord God,
who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,
“I will gather yet others to him
besides those already gathered.”
Those people who tell you that the law is more important than your relationship with God, those people who make you think you cannot be good enough to please God are wrong. They are the ones who are not pleasing the Lord. They lead people away from Christ instead of toward Him and they will receive their recompense for what they are doing. God compares them to lazy dogs who care only about satisfying themselves. (Verses 9-12).
So don’t let anyone tell you that your walk with God isn’t good enough. Do you love God with your mind, soul, heart and strength? Do you strive to know Him more? Are you made righteous by Jesus’ blood? Do you long for the same things He does? Do you love people the way He does? Do you love people the way He loves you? Then cling to His love, hold onto His promises and let Him strengthen your faith and your walk. Be transformed in Him. Be salt and light to the world. Be that peculiar person, that royal and separate priest. Stop pleasing the world or your church leaders and start enjoying the Lord.