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Not going to 'fit in'

"Belonging" is something kids start to 'pursue' at a very early age. They want to belong to a neighborhood group of friends or a best friend. The wish to belong to a group of kids at school with similar interests and who actually help them stay 'insulated' against those who would seek to do them harm by bullying or targeting them for some 'flaw' they have in their size, shape, or ability. In school I found there were various groups of people - some were pretty popular, others not so much. In the moment, almost all of us wanted to be part of the popular group. It was not so much the desire to "do" what they did, but to be considered to be "part of" their group. In fact, if I had considered some of the stuff they "did", I might have reconsidered my all-fired desire to "fit into" their group! Isn't it funny how we view others from the limited perspective of how being "part" of their "circle" will benefit us? This is certainly not a new issue in society - nor is it soon to be resolved! Many a 'good thing' turns 'bad' for us when we focus more on 'belonging' than in the choices we make by belonging to the wrong crowd or thing!

Mordecai walked out of the king's presence wearing a royal robe of violet and white, a huge gold crown, and a purple cape of fine linen. The city of Susa exploded with joy. For Jews it was all sunshine and laughter: they celebrated, they were honored. It was that way all over the country, in every province, every city when the king's bulletin was posted: the Jews took to the streets in celebration, cheering, and feasting. Not only that, but many non-Jews became Jews—now it was dangerous not to be a Jew! (Esther 8:15-17)

In looking back, I have discovered we often believe it is more "dangerous" for us to be outside of the "group" than it is to be on the "inside track" with them. As I consider some of the things I engaged in just to "fit in", my hair kind of prickles at the nape of my neck! The type of speech I used, the ways I tried to dress, the out and out rebellious deeds I engaged in - they just mount up and make me shake my head at how dumb I actually was to have made those choices. Isn't it amazing how many times we consider it a "benefit" to be anywhere other than where we are, be doing something other than what we are doing, or to be someone other than we truly are? If we re-read this passage closely, we see an amazing thing happening here. Mordecai was actually exalted to a place of honor and 'status' in the kingdom because he refused to compromise his values - he refused to 'fit in' just because others told him there were certain things he had to do in order to 'fit' the present day trends. 

He stood strong when asked to bow to the government official in homage - instead choosing to believe no one other than God himself was due this type of honor. Our values are the one thing no one can truly take away from us. When they are rightly rooted in the Word of God, the promises and commands contained within, we find these to be both a comfort and a strong foundation for our lives. In looking back over my life, I discovered how much every "compromise" of a value actually cost me. Values are a guiding principle - compromise them and you soon realize how much compromise costs - if not in monetary terms, at least in the toll it takes on your emotions, spiritual health, and maybe even your physical well-being. Hold fast to them, and you will be rewarded - maybe not in the moment, but God never forgets his children! When even one person stands upon the values they know to be right and sure, an entire nation can be affected by that 'stand'! We will never fully realize the impact of our "deciding moments" - not only in our own lives, but in the lives of those who observe them. What we choose to do with the decisions of today determines the course of tomorrow - for us, and for those we influence.

We never know the significance of the impact of our remaining true to our values. Even those with dissimilar values can be impacted. For Mordecai, the very fact he held to his beliefs and was honored for this stand began to cause those outside of the faith to consider what the "benefits" of his faith really could be - so much so that they were 'converting' to his faith. Wouldn't it be great if our deciding moments of today began to influence others to "investigate" the hope we have found in Christ? I wonder if the day will come when those who don't believe in Christ will ever feel it is a "dangerous thing" to NOT believe in him? Who knows what impact we could make if we lived true to our convictions - refusing to compromise, standing upon what we believe to be true, and delighting in doing the will of God! Just sayin!

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