human chameleon

human chameleon

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Luke 19:1-10
“[Jesus] has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled (Luke 19:7).

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Read James 4:4 to see one result of friendship with the world. Read Matthew 9:12-13 to see how Jesus responded to the Pharisees who looked down on sinners.

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Is it more dangerous to get too close to the world or to be too far removed? How can we avoid the spiritual pride that results in harshness toward nonbelievers?

Chinese performance artist Liu Bolin is known as “the invisible man” or “the human chameleon” because he blends himself into his surroundings. To do this, he covers his entire body in paint which perfectly matches his chosen backdrop. Liu has painted himself into real-life scenes which include graphitized walls, supermarket shelves, and even telephone booths.

As Christians, we sometimes try to walk the line between blending in with the world around us and standing out as citizens of a straight-laced subculture. Becoming worldly may make us ineffective witnesses for Christ, while preaching from a holier-than-thou standpoint can isolate us from people who need God’s grace.

Zacchaeus developed a godly set of convictions shortly after meeting Jesus. Interestingly, this was not the result of any lecture from Christ. When Zacchaeus volunteered to “give [the people] back four times as much” as he had wrongly taken from them (Luke 19:8), Jesus celebrated his change of heart (Luke 19:9). Although there is certainly a time to confront sinful words and behavior (Matthew 12:38-39; John 2:15-16), we can be gentle and gracious with people who see their need for God (Luke 7:44-48; John 8:4-11).

Although Jesus engaged with sinful people, He never participated in their sin. He visited Zacchaeus’ home, but He didn’t go into business with him or accept shady money from the “notorious sinner” (Luke 19:7). Jesus had a greater influence on Zacchaeus than what the “chief tax collector” (Luke 19:2) had on Him. When we befriend unbelievers, we should consider how we might lift them up, rather than changing our convictions to match theirs (Psalm 1:1).

If we follow Jesus’ lead when it comes to relating to the people and culture around us, we’ll find the right balance between being in the world but not of it (John 15:19).

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Genesis 42:1-38

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8 Responses to “human chameleon”

  1. Joe Hill says:

    Thanks for a timely, needed message Jennifer. Christians, in our divided nation, with standards being accepted that God abhors, it is time to stand up and be counted as Christians! That will get you labeled as a conservative politically. You need not be afraid to hold to the moral values taught in the Word of God. It’s time to actively give of ourselves to truly make our nation “one nation under God” again!

    • jennifer benson schuldt says:

      Joe Hill,

      It can be very hard to strike a balance betwteen respecting those who are in authority over us (Romans 13:1), as the Bible instucts us, and to honor God and the standards in His Word, at the same time. May God help us to know how to honor Him in every situation! Thanks for taking the time to post a comment today.

  2. deborah1 says:

    The Christians that have always inspired me to grow in Christ are those with whom I feel Godly love, those who attempt to understand and support me where I am on my spiritual journey and those that gently guide me if I start to wander astray. I feel shame from those who are quick to give advice by claiming that they are fulfilling the Lord’s mission to evangelize. Let’s all be careful of spiritual pride while interacting others. Communicating with love, understanding and support and setting an example of living a Christian life have a far greater impact on any unbelievers and those who are struggling to resist temptation than giving advice that portrays oneself as a Pharisee.

  3. jennifer benson schuldt says:

    deborah1,

    Praise God for those Christians who have helped you grow through their love and support! They are modeling God’s kindness toward all of us (Ephesians 4:32). What a great reminder to all of us–setting a godly example can impact those around us. I’ve heard it said before, “People don’t care what we know (about God) until they know that we care.”

  4. winn collier says:

    First off, I love photos I’ve seen of Bolin. Amazing. Being who we truly are – with confidence – is a difficult thing, isn’t it?

    • jennifer benson schuldt says:

      Those photos are amazing, aren’t they?? So creative, and some of them are so intricate. Another aspect of his art that I find interesting is that it photographs so well.

      Being who we truly are can be difficult depending on the circumstances. When we surround ourselves with like-minded and like-skilled people, it can be easier. At least for me. :) I find it incredible that God makes people so different. His creation–all of humanity–surely demonstrates His creative power and love of diversity in so many ways!

  5. daisymarygoldr says:

    You are right Jennifer; Jesus engaged with sinful people, He never participated in their sin. Similarly, we do befriend unbelievers but do not participate in the deeds of darkness. Those who are without God’s light cannot see the truth. For example, how does one convince the world that God did not create gays? Besides, we are not called to confront sin in those who are outside the church (1 Corinthians 5:12).

    Our responsibility is to simply preach the Good News. This is the very purpose of our existence in the world. It is not possible to fulfill God’s purpose if we isolate ourselves in holy huddles. And blending in with the world in order to fit in with the crowd is also not the right thing to do. Conforming to the cultural standards of society will cause us to compromise the gospel truth. Balance is to be in the world but not copy the behavior and customs of this world (Romans 12: 2).

    Spiritual pride is inflated ego that gets easily offended when confronted and prevents people from acknowledging our sins. There is no scope for such pride when we proclaim “all have sinned”. And spiritual pride that results in harshness toward nonbelievers can be avoided when we preach as sinners saved by grace. Also, it is important to be humble and make every effort to discipline myself lest after preaching to others, “I should be a castaway.”

  6. jennifer benson schuldt says:

    daisymarygoldr, Thank you for mentioning Romans 12:2. A discussion in this topic would not be complete without that verse. :) Paul must have known how easy it is to become chameleons and just blend in with the world around us. However, he points out that if we change, our transformation is to be inward, and oriented toward God. We’re supposed to let Him change the way we think. When that happens, we won’t be as prone to becoming camouflage Christians in today’s world.

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