It was two weeks before Christmas. As the wind howled outside, we were settling in for our annual Saturday night viewing of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Suddenly, the power went out.
As we sat in the darkness, I contemplated turning on our standby generator. Then it hit me: if we turn on the generator for water and heat, our Christmas lights will turn on automatically. While every other house on the street will be dark, our yard will be lit like the house in Deck the Halls. (Maybe they will even see it from space.). It would definitely stand out and show a distinction.
This reminded me of Jesus’ words:
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14)
This message started burning in my spirit: Just like my crazy Christmas lights, Christians are to stand out to the world like the only house with power in a city-wide blackout.
Think about it: We’re supposed to stand out. There’s supposed to be a difference that tells the world around us, “We have what you need.” The distinction should be noticeable.
And yet, that is precisely what many in our culture and even some churches are trying to squelch. Rather than being different, they want followers of Christ to blend, go with the cultural flow, and follow their lead rather than lead the way.
But this is the exact opposite of what God wants His children to do.
When the world says “blend in,” the Bible says “come apart and be separate.”
When the world says “bow,” the Bible says “stand firm in the faith.” (1 Cor 16:13)
When the world says, “embrace the darkness,” Jesus tells us to be a light in the dark world.
More than ever in my life, over the past two years, I’ve noticed that those who identify as Christians are separating into two distinct groups. Some call themselves followers of Christ, yet under the guise of “tolerance”, they dim their light and blend in with whatever popular new idea society promotes. They are willing to alter their beliefs, principles, doctrine, and lifestyle to bow to the gods of “wokeness” and “tolerance.” They’d rather compromise than make waves. Afraid to be canceled by their circle or sacrifice anything for Christ, do as many Jews did when Nebuchadnezzar built a statue to himself and threatened all who didn’t worship be thrown into the fiery furnace. (Daniel 3)
They bow. They bend. They blend.
Thankfully, there’s another group of people I see standing out in the world like Christmas lights in a blackout. These are the followers of Christ who say, “We will not bow, we will not bend, we will simply “blend in” to keep the peace. Instead, we are going to stand firm in our faith, refuse to bend, and refuse to compromise.”
Like a beam of light shining through the darkness, I see these people—-many of them people who would have chosen to quietly live their lives without being noticed—-coming out of the woodwork and taking stands in their private lives.
They're saying, “No, I can’t condone that behavior, that idea, that belief. I can’t say that evil is good or wrong is right just to avoid conflict. I will not bow to sin, to the culture, to temptation no matter what. I cannot blend—-I must stand for righteousness.”
Some that I know personally have lost friends for shining their light. Others have been rejected by family. One was even asked to leave their job. Almost all have been mistreated on social media. Yet, they stand.
Because they know Who they believe in, the difference Jesus has made in their lives, and no matter what, they are committed to following Him. Like Shadrach, Meschach, and Abendego, their light shines bright as they say, “We will not bow.” (Daniel 3)
Much like the parable of the weeds in Matthew 13:24-30, both of these groups fill American churches. Yet more and more, there is a distinction between those truly following Christ and those who want the title and benefits but aren’t genuinely following God and His ways.
As we head into 2022, I genuinely believe that we will see even more of a distinction. I believe it will become even more common for followers of Christ to choose whether they will blend and bow or stand and shine. I believe we’ll face the choice more often and in very personal ways.
Each of us needs to decide which type of Christian we will be.
When we are presented with choices, will we bend, bow, and blend or stand firm on the principles of God’s Word?
Are we willing to sacrifice to shine our light?
Are you strong enough to stand out like a yard of fully lite Christmas decorations in a blackout, or would you rather blend in with the world around you?
As we enter into 2022 and beyond, I believe the Holy Spirit is raising up an army of His people—those who will answer, “Yes, I want to be different. I am willing to stand out. I want to shine for Jesus. I don’t want to blend in for the sake of comfort. I won’t worship other gods to avoid sacrifice. I will answer the call to be separate, be different, and shine my light in a dark, broken world. I want to follow in the footsteps of the great men and women of faith who have gone before and be 100% ride or die for Jesus.”
More than anything, I want to be part of that army. I don’t want to waste my life blending in and bowing down to false gods just because I’m afraid. I want to follow Jesus wholeheartedly.
What about you?
Will you blend or be separate?
Will you bow or stand firm?
Are you willing to answer the call and say, “Whatever is dimming my light, whatever is causing me to blend in with the world, I will give it up for the privilege of following Jesus”?
Will you ask the Holy Spirit to help you shine for Jesus every day as you walk through each circumstance of your life?
As you walk through 2022, will you answer Jesus’ call to shine like a city on a hill or hide your light and blend in with the world around you?
It’s a choice we’re all facing. Which path will you choose?
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry.