Guest Post by Sandy Kriefall
I commute to 37th and Juneau Avenue to go to work. A part of that drive each day is down side streets of Milwaukee. One of the first things that caught my attention as I drove to and from work was the number of people who run red lights. I was shocked that when the light turned yellow, not one but two or more cars also went through the now very red light. I have watched countless cars, busses, and trucks fly through intersections after the light has clearly turned red. Everybody seems to be doing it. I was so conscious of it that for a while I actually made a game of counting the number of red light offenders per trip. As time went on, I no longer paid attention to cars pushing red lights; it became a common part of everyday life.
One of the characteristics of sin is that we know it is wrong. When we see it happening around us, initially we are amazed and pay attention to it. We can’t believe someone would actually do that! The Holy Spirit can communicate to our conscience and we heed the voice. But the danger of living in a sinful world is that eventually we become dulled to the sin around us. It is no longer shocking, if you see it enough it becomes a part of everyday life. That voice no longer whispers in our ear and we accept that sinful behavior as a common way of life.
One day I was running late and the light turned yellow. In a split second I had to make the choice to stop or to push the light like I see so many others do. Why shouldn’t I go through too, it would get me to my destination a minute or two earlier. There were no cars near the intersection and there were no officers in sight. I quickly looked in my rear view mirror to make sure no one was behind me, and I made the split second decision to stop. I was very tempted to go through the yellow light that would probably be red by the time I reached the crosswalk but something in my head said ”just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t make it right”.
One of the hardest challenges in living a Christian life is to live with integrity in all situations. The problem is that if you do something once, it makes it easier to do it twice and soon that little voice in your ear fades away and the sinful behavior becomes a way of life you no longer notice. Another example is if we are frequently exposed to an environment where people commonly use foul language, it is easy to pick up words here and there and at some point we don’t even notice the swear words spewing out of our own mouth. It has become normal and by doing it we fit in. The devil enjoys it when Christians act worldly, because it blurs the lines between Christians and non-Christians and makes those who profess to be Christians look like hypocrites.
When we make a conscious effort to not follow the norm of this world but to do what we know is right, even when it is not popular to do so, it is not easy. But it is then that something inside you begins to change. Your sensitivity to sin becomes heightened and you become more capable of making a choice to do the right thing. If a police officer is in view, most of those people wouldn’t go through the red light like they do when no one of authority sees them. But when you make the choice to do what is right no matter if you are alone or in the view of others it transforms your character. When this happens, the Holy Spirit’s voice becomes more noticeable and can guide you when you are not sure of what choice to make and it will strengthen you to do avoid the patterns of this world even when everyone is doing it.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2