August 18

2 Chronicles 18-20, Psalm 75

When I began my residency in 1988, we were immediately confronted with the decision of whether or not we would participate in performing abortions. The pressure to conform and participate was intense. All of us wanted to be seen as hard workers, be accepted into the group of residents, be liked by those in charge of us. The 2 main physicians in charge of us stated in no uncertain terms that not participating would be a sign of laziness and would be considered dumping your work on others, in other words we would be viewed poorly. I was early in my walk as a Christian and fortunately my first rotation was at a Catholic hospital where abortions were not permitted. One of the residents had no issue with abortion and gladly participated, one I don't remember, but the third was conflicted. She was Catholic and didn't really want to do it, but was new and felt intense pressure from her superiors to conform. So she agreed and participated in a handful of them. That's when she began to get nightmares and felt terrible about what she was doing. She confided in those of us who refused, and soon stood her ground against her superiors and refused to do any more.

We read an interesting story in chapter 18 of 2 Chronicles of 400 false prophets who chose to conform and tell King Ahab what he wanted to hear, and the one true prophet who was willing to stand alone for God. King Jehoshaphat recognized the false advice of the others and asked if there was a true prophet in the northern kingdom. So they sent for Micaiah. We read in 2 Chr 18:12-13, "Then the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah spoke to him, saying, "Now listen, the words of the prophets with one accord encourage the king. Therefore please let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak encouragement." And Micaiah said, "As the Lord lives, whatever my God says, that I will speak." When he spoke forth the truth of God's Word, King Ahab said in 2 Chr 18:17, "...Did I not tell you he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?" In 2 Chr 18:23, one of the false prophets publicly strikes him on the cheek. In verse 26, for telling the truth and not conforming, the king throws him in prison and gives him "the bread and water of affliction" for sustenance.

Those of us who have accepted Jesus' offer of salvation are called saints. To be a saint means we are consecrated to God, holy or separated from others, not conforming to the world but to God. Paul in Romans 12:1-2 says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." No matter where we are the pressure to conform is intense. Everyone wants to be liked and fit in. But the call of the Christian is just the opposite. When a situation arises at home, at work, or anywhere in the world we have to make a decision whether we are going to conform to the world or whether we are willing to stand alone, even if that means persecution, and stand for God. I pray that we all lean and trust in the Holy Spirit and allow Him to empower us to take a stand and make a difference in a world that desperately needs us to separate from the popular and generally accepted stance.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster