You know how you can listen to a song for months without really hearing it? Maybe it's the music style that turns your ears off and you miss the lyrics. Well that's what happened with me and "Brave" by Nicole Nordeman. But yesterday I heard the first verse of that song for the first time and it really spoke to me. I feel like this really sums up the struggle to be a Christian (meaning Christ-like) in today's American society:
The gate is wide
The road is paved in moderation
The crowd is kind and quick to pull you in
Welcome to the middle ground
You're safe and sound and
Until now it's where I've been
Cause it's been fear that ties me down to everything
But it's been love, Your love, that cuts the strings
I especially like the part about the crowd being kind, and telling you that now that you are average (middle-ground), you are safe. I think that most of the things that people, media, and the government tell us through smiling faces are designed by our Enemy to keep us in fear and out of God's Love, which is freedom. In our politically "free" nation of America, we are spiritually bound up to an unprecedented level. We are slaves to status quo. Let me say that again:
WE ARE SLAVES TO STATUS QUO!
That makes me so angry! All we want is what everyone else has. We want to look like the accepted ideal. Dress like the cool people, go to the nice restaurants, drive an acceptable car, have nice-looking friends with money. We are Christians! We are set apart, called to put all of our hearts into loving God. But how much of my heart is utterly devoted to keeping up with the world's standards? (I believe that the urge to conform to "a group" begins in school when our easily influenced babies spend all day with kids their same age who are all supposed to act the same way and strive for the same goal, which is putting down a pre-determined answer on a test to get a "good grade" or impressing the popular kids by acting just like them. But that is another topic that I won't get started on right now.)
Like the song says, it is God's perfect love that casts out the fear (What if I don't measure up? What if I never arrive? What if I can't please her/him?) and cuts those strings that tie us down to conformity, to mediocrisy, to death. When we truly encounter God's love in our own lives, we get free. Because only then do we understand how accepted and loved we already are, and we're free not to impress people. Free not to measure up to this culture's standard. Free to be great. Free to be me.