Sunday, January 13, 2013

Righteousness, peace, and joy

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I'm different, to say the least.  I struggle with this sometimes.  This has been the case to some extent for most of my life.  Being a homeschooler was not exactly mainstream when I was growing up.  Being a Christian and really striving to live that out was not the most popular lifestyle choice in college.  Apparently people considered me "religious" back then.  I thought I was just a girl who loved Jesus.  More recently, I am different in that I "eat all healthy" to quote some comments I've gotten from some friends recently.  If only they knew that I voted for Gary Johnson in the 2012 election, haven't washed my hair with shampoo in over a year, don't get an annual flu shot, seek to avoid debt like the plague, and dream of owning several acres and living off-grid someday...I bet I'd really be an outcast then!  As different as I have always been, I always used to fit in pretty well with my close friends, family, and brothers and sisters at church, even if the rest of the world didn't quite get who I was.  When I first starting learning things about our food supply and the USDA dietary recommendations that turned everything I thought I knew my whole life upside down, I couldn't wait to go out and spread my newfound knowledge to anyone who would listen, especially those closest to me.  I realized pretty quickly that not everyone was ready or willing to hear or accept what I had found to be my new truth.  I realized I had to tone things down a couple notches.  I am sure I still overwhelm a few people with whom I come into contact, but I at least like to think that I have learned to live my life out in my own way a little more quietly and share my views when asked rather than beating people over the head with my philosophies unsolicited.

But I still struggle.  I have found that some of my family and friends are simply on their own journeys, and I think to some degree, we all know deep down that our modern industrialized way of life is not exactly in harmony with how God created this earth.  To some degree, I think we all realize something is not quite right.  I alternate between wondering if maybe there is no point to even trying.  Does what I am doing have any eternal significance?  Would I glorify God more if I invested more time and energy in more "spiritual" pursuits?  If the answer is that I am doing what God has called me to do, then what does that mean for other believers who aren't pursuing this same sort of lifestyle?  I believe God revealed the answers to these questions to me recently as I was reading through Romans 14:
"14 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister[a]? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
    every tongue will acknowledge God.’”[b]
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.[c]"
I tried to choose just one or two key verses to demonstrate the point but realized all of it is key.  The point is that for me, pursuing a more natural, self-sufficient lifestyle is what God has called me to.  I am convinced in my own mind that in living this way, so long as God is first and He is my focus, I am glorifying Him and fulfilling His purpose for me.  He will equip me to continue on this path according to His will, and He has a purpose in it.  For me, it would be poor stewardship not to be doing some of the things I am currently doing.  But who am I to judge others who don't live my way?  I loved Jesus and walked with Him daily before I started drinking raw milk and shopping at the farmer's market.  I am not a "better Christian" now because I am doing these things.  God has provided me with knowledge, and He has provided the resources to apply that knowledge in ways that have greatly improved my health, my finances, and my quality of life.  I feel personally convicted and responsible to do what I can with this knowledge within the constraints of my own time, finances, and sanity.  But it's not my place to judge whether or not a brother or sister is stewarding their own knowledge and resources responsibly.  Who am I to judge someone else's servant (see verse 4)?  When God provides an opportunity to share what I have learned, I will continue to enthusiastically teach others.  But when God puts a person in my path who is at a different place in life, I will choose love and unity for that person, not judgement and condemnation.  And furthermore, I will seek to learn from those who are further along in other areas than myself, because I certainly still have plenty to learn.  As humans, we tend to judge others by their actions, because that's all we see.  But God sees the heart.  May I never forget that.


  1. Sissy, I'm so excited that God has brought me up alongside you and we can hold each other's hands and be "outcasts" together!! ;]
    I've always known you were different... in a way that I want to be! :] I love you, Sissy!

    1. Awwww! :) Love you, too. Never thought we'd get to be completely and utterly socially unacceptable together! But I am loving every minute!