Who, or What, is the Standard for Your Life

Jamie FarquharYouth Ministry Blog

Since I was young, Christianity has always had such an amazing appeal. I grew up in a church family hearing messages of Christ’s love and how He wanted to bring everyone to be in right relationship with Him in order to heal the world of all its pain, anger, and hate. As I grew older, the reality of broken people born and prone to hatred and hardheartedness carrying out this message of unity became truly evident, but I also further understood why He calls us to Himself to lay down what we feel is important so He can show us what truly is.

He calls us to come and die to our opinions and biases about what is fair in life and what people deserve, and then He extends grace to us personally that we in turn pour out to every heart we meet and are in contact with moment to moment each day. He is the standard, not us. Any thought outside of His way of seeing the world and how others should be treated is idolatry and is worshiping something other than Him.

This very fact I have kept close to my heart while sailing through the turbulent waters and winds of this season of life, because, while they do have a place, it’s not in the comfort and security of traditions we should be finding peace and strength. Instead we should be gaining those things directly from the quality and nature of the great giver of those gifts who is ever drawing us to Himself in order to lift our hearts and show us exciting new glimpses of His coming Kingdom (and what a joyous place we have been given the right to call home). We miss out on those glimpses of light and love and how to share them with others in this world right now by letting fear, hurt, anger, pain, complacency, distractions, division, and bitterness consume us bit by bit and slowly fill our hearts each day, though.


The battle for our souls is a moment to moment one, made by seemingly small decisions regarding what to let pass through our minds and into our hearts. What we choose to take in and expose ourselves to is constantly glorifying either God or the other (moving us incrementally in the corresponding direction spiritually with each choice), and the only true way to tell which is which comes from soaking in the word of God and, by doing this, we seek His wisdom and not the world’s (which includes lies and faulty opinions/ideas of who God is and how He calls us to speak to and treat others). James 1:5 even says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” How cool is it God wants to help you directly and show you which things are helpful and which aren’t just by asking through prayer and Scripture?!

He alone is the plumb line (a tool used to measure the vertical straightness of a wall) and standard to which our hearts are called to align with (Amos 7:7&8). In this season of heightened political tension amidst everything else happening, we must be far more intentional about letting His grace flow in clear, evident ways through our thoughts and actions (both online and in person), because we are called to be His image bearers to a world desperately in need of His light and love! He is the answer they are seeking, whether they know it or not, but we are poor guides if we aren’t daily devoting ourselves to being filled and renewed with His actual, sacrificial, merciful love. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

His plan is so much bigger in scope, thankfully, than any political party’s agenda! We are called to show grace while speaking for up for ALL groups being unjustly treated-regardless of age, race, sex, or social status- to work alongside God to bring about His epic want for all creation: total restoration and wholeness in thought, heart, language, and action of every, single person in every, single society. HOW AMAZING DOES THAT SOUND?! Doing things His way, not ours, is the only path to achieve that, though. We can’t pick and choose groups when the breaking of all His creations’ hearts breaks His own, and, because of that, He calls us to be like minded in helping every other human made in His image regardless of what it may cost us or Him.

“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and pick up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?” (Matthew 16: 24-26). “In our abandonment we give ourselves over to God just as God gave Himself for us, without any calculations. The consequences of abandonment never enter into our outlook because our life is taken up in Him.” – Oswald Chambers.


God’s plan is always so much bigger than our fears, our prejudices, and our personal biases, but the hard truth is living in to that plan always starts with an honest look inward to see if we really are on the same page with Him. As Charles Spurgeon says, “Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.”

How can we tell what is in our hearts, though, and if we share His vision for others and the world as a whole? Jesus’ answer is pretty simple: everything we say and do comes from what we choose to let live in our heart: “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:43-45). So then the real question is, what behaviors are we prioritizing and what messages and media are we choosing to engage in moment to moment every day, because that is what we have stored up, which means that is who we have chosen to be for better or worse. If what we intentionally, consistently choose to fill our hearts with is God, His nature will naturally be reflected in our attitudes, words, priorities, and actions. If we are full of the other, quite the opposite will happen. Either way the overall consistency of our words, thoughts, priorities, and actions will be evident to all.

C.S. Lewis also put forth a good reflection on what it means to love others and an honest test of our hearts in his book Mere Christianity:
“For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life – namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things. Consequently, Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them. Not one word of what we have said about them needs to be unsaid. But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere he can be cured and made human again.

The real test is this. Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, `Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally, we shall insist on seeing everything – God and our friends and ourselves included – as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.”

After reflecting on that passage,- and how Jesus is actually calling us to participate in God’s global mission of the physical, emotional, and spiritual redemption and wholeness on every, single person in every, single part of the world -where does your heart truly line up, and what can you start to or continue doing today to participate in His epically loving vision for all humanity? In the words of Mike Donehey (lead singer on Tenth Avenue North), “How much differently would you engage people if you knew your ultimate purpose was to love them?”

” If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18).

“Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm” (Ephesians 6:11-13)

“Love Anyway” by Tenth Avenue North

“I don’t want to start another new debate
‘Cause when I turn the news on
All I feel is heartbreak
Left, right hate on both sides
Oh will we ever learn, we can stop drawing lines,
Enemy lines

I want to hear before I speak
Offer grace before critique
I want to live like I’ve got no enemies
Lord help me, Lord help me
To love anyway

You told me that the battle isn’t flesh and blood
But when safety is my idol, it’s impossible to trust
Race, guns, refugee wars
We’re known for who we’re against
Yeah, but who are we for?
Who are we for?
Who are we fighting for?

Teach me how to turn
Turn the other cheek
Show me how to bless
Even those who threaten me
To love them how you love me.”