How To Respond to Believers with Different Standards
For one coming from a very conservative Christian homeschooling family, college can lead you into a couple different problems. Either you get freaked out because not everyone has the same values as yourself and you think everyone is a heathen or you consider yourself more holy than everyone else or you fall into all the peer pressure and drop all standards all together.
Here are a couple things that I have thought through myself since going off to college four years ago and I pray may encourage or help you as many of you reach the point of going off to college yourself.
Sometimes we Christians can be somewhat legalistic and think that because God has given one person a certain conviction on an issue that everyone else should have that conviction too, but I believe that there are some issues that the Bible is not definite on and that God convicts one person in one way while convicting another person in a different manner.
There are some things the Bible is clear on and those things are important to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ in. If we see a brother or sister going wayward in something the Bible speaks clearly of, we should gently and lovingly point that brother/sister back to the Lord.
Furthermore, if you are like me, sometimes I forget that it is by grace that I am saved and not by works.
Every believer should strive to live for God’s glory and to live by his word and to keep his commandments, yet our motives for doing so should not be so that we can be a more holy person than others or so that God will love us more or to earn our salvation in any way.
We are saved by grace and grace alone and nothing we do can make God love us more than he does because he loves us infinitely.
So I think it is important that we ask ourselves why we have a certain standard for various things. Even if it is a good standard to have, one can still have it for the wrong reason.
Even though there will always be issues that you will disagree with others about, it is good to search your own soul and ask yourself why you hold to that conviction?
Are you trying to save yourself by the law or are you living in grace? Are you living under the old or new covenant?
Sometimes we need to humble ourselves before God and recognize that we are not more holy than someone else for not doing something and maybe even be willing to change if one’s own motives are out of a proud or unholy heart.
Nevertheless, one must learn to stand alone in various convictions. We know that we are not of the world and that we are called to live differently from the world, and that often means standing alone. Even in the church there are going to be varying convictions and sometimes we must be willing to stand alone among God’s people, too. Yet that does not mean that we should separate ourselves from a community just because not all of their values align themselves with our own.
Be willing to be wrong and be willing to change, yet also be willing to stand alone.
I know that I am often convicted myself, thinking I am better or more holy than others because I do this or I don’t do that. As I have gotten to know people with varying standards, I have learned that just because my values or standards are sometimes different than another person’s, does not at all define them or make me better than them.
I love each one of my various friends so much for the various ways they inspire me or encourage me or challenge me in my walk with the Lord. I may not choose to dress like some of the girls I know, but I love them dearly and love their heart for the Lord, their passion for the kingdom of God, and the beauty of their hearts. I can go to the bar with my friends and love the genuine fellowship I have with my friends even though I may be the only one not drinking. Even movie or music standards are sometimes different.
My closest friends are not closest friends just because they have the exact same standard as I do, but rather because they love the Lord, they love the gospel, they love the kingdom of God, they are passionate for his glory, they love others, they forgive others, they are humble; they are kind, compassionate, and patient, yet they strive to live and walk as Christ walked. But just like you and me, they are frail fallen humans who stumble and make mistakes, yet we all persevere in the faith, rest on grace, and strive to be more like Christ, and in this we have unity.
Do not let your pride and standards hinder you from seeing the full beauty of Christ and his grace and unconditional love for his children. Do not let your own standards hinder you from loving others with Christ-like unconditional love.
We are not called to change our standards, but we are called to love others well. Remember that it is God who judges. Leave the judging to him.
Remember that where ever you go, you will be faced with opposition, but be willing to be the light.