“Did you have a nice weekend? What did you do?” asks a friendly colleague at work on Monday morning.
I had a really wonderful weekend; I went to a Christian conference with several hundred other Christians and the teachings I heard were so good and helpful to me. But I didn’t think the person who asked the question was a Christian, so I didn’t think he would understand how wonderful my weekend was. I ended up giving him the usual general answer: “It was great, I didn’t really do much, it was relaxing.”
Then, afterwards, I realised that I had just basically lied and started thinking of all the other times I had directly lied, or just avoided talking about the fact that I am a Christian and believe certain things that my co-workers may not.
I remember sitting together at lunch time when some of them would tell stories that were not very pure or went against what I believe. I just sat there, smiling, simply because I didn’t want to make them feel uncomfortable. I said to myself that it’s not that I am afraid to stand up for what I believe; it’s just that they wouldn’t understand and I want them to feel comfortable around me and have a good relationship with me.
A slave of people?
I always thought that I understood the verse that says, “You must leave them and separate yourselves from them. Have nothing to do with what is unclean, and I will accept you.” 2 Corinthians 6:17 (GNT). But I suddenly realised that I wasn’t doing what this verse said.
After I prayed about this, I picked up my Bible and read this verse: “You all were bought at a great price, so do not become slaves of people.” 1 Corinthians 7:23 (NCV). As a person, I want to fit in with the people I am with, whether it is the people I work together with or my group of friends, roommates, family, etc. I want to be liked and accepted; that’s natural.
But do I go along with ungodliness and things that God actually hates? Do I go along with things like gossiping, impure jokes or stories, flattery, flirting, etc. just so that I can be accepted? Do I pretend that I’m a caring, selfless person when in fact I am often not even really listening to what the others are telling me?
If I am so bound to what people think of me, and can’t do what God wants me to do, that means I am a “slave of people”.
Free to do what God wants
Then I realised that I don’t need to remain a slave of people! Never again a slave! Not even once! God has given me the promise in Romans 16:20 (NLT), “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” I don’t need to go around like a “slave” of whomever I am with, without even being able to “think my own thoughts”. No, this fear of being shut out or excluded can come completely “under my feet”! I can overcome this fear completely!
The next week at work went totally differently. When my co-worker asked me about my weekend, I happily and naturally told him that I went to church on Sunday. Then, as the day went on and I overheard backbiting, gossiping, or impure stories, I could show in some way that I disagreed and didn’t want to go along with what they were doing or saying. Sometimes I said something and other times I just walked away. In any case, they know now that I am a Christian and they have learned what I stand for.
The verse in 1 Corinthians 7:23 that says, “You all were bought at a great price, so do not become slaves of people,” is a great help for me when I am tempted to be afraid of people or to care about what they think about me. I am very happy that I can become free from being a slave to people. It’s completely possible and it can happen very quickly, with God’s help. He has promised this in His Word and I look forward to come more and more into this freedom!