It is said that “we do not get to choose the family we are born into”. Every family has a long list of expectations of particular members therein. From birth until that particular person kicks the bucket. Parents demand good grades from their children (a good thing if rightly cultivated), when they are still in school. These children even forget to learn, and just go through school life just getting the grade to pleasing their guardian. Oh but that is not the end of it, depending on the culture or religious belief, guardians and peers usually have influence over some of the most important life decisions. Decisions like how to spend your hard earned income, who to marry, what career path to take?  The list goes on. Pleasing God in such a setting can prove to be a daunting task.    

Culture and religion

Breaking the mold is not easy. For one, the fear of being labeled the black sheep of the family is something a Zambian simply cannot bear. We are a people who value relationships, be it immediate family, distant relatives, and friends alike. There is a thin line between family and acquaintances. Therefore, the thought of not letting those around us down consequently leads us to compromise in matters of our faith. Granted one comes from a “Christian home” and along the way that person finds the truth of the gospel, and thereafter seek to join a gospel-preaching church, it is, more often than not frowned upon and seen as a betrayal. Therefore, in hopes to keep peace and maintain the relationships, they end up just staying and saying nothing, even with all the false teaching.    

Learning from those that ran the race

 I am reminded of the story of James and John, the sons of Zebedee (Matthew 4:21-22). Picture yourself in their shoes, would you leave the family business and follow Christ? The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth (1corinthians 2:1-5) telling them how he would not compromise his testimony, by pleasing them with lofty speech but preach the cross plainly. If one was to drive “pleasing men” to its furthest conclusion, we get to see it for the sin that it is “watering down scripture”. Because then rebuking and correcting become obsolete tools when it comes to discipleship. These are two things we are instructed to use scripture for (2Timothy 4:2, Titus 1:9). How about this charge from Paul to Timothy, “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear”. Shocking isn’t it.  But how often do we see situations where a privileged member of the church is somehow exempt from church discipline? Even worse, we see church services on TV, built around what the people are seeking (pleasing the masses) and therein starving God’s sheep. We need to examine ourselves and think about the Lord Jesus Christ said “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-20)