It’s Not About You.

I’ve ranted on this topic before, though not very eloquently. Yet, I felt the topic needed to be revisited.

What topic is that?

Christian girls in bikinis.

It’s summer and though my bathing suit has yet to be donned, it seems Facebook has nigh unto imploded upon itself with pictures of girls in their new summer bikinis. While not unusual, it still never ceases to bother me.

I haven’t been able to put into words exactly why – nor have I been able to put Biblical backing behind it – for years. But, finally, today in church, some footing was given to my stance. I wanted to share it here, for what it’s worth.

Just recently, this issue came to the forefront in my own life as someone, a believer, that I would deem more of an acquaintance than anything posted, what I would consider to be, inappropriate pictures of herself in a bikini. They were skimpy enough that I asked my husband to not view my Facebook feed until I could get rid of them. A few days later, she ranted that if people didn’t like her pictures, they could simply unfriend her. I didn’t, knowing that that would give off the wrong impression and never open her up to a conversation about the issue, though like I said, we’re barely acquaintances, so I’m not sure that will ever happen anyway.

As I contemplated this issue, though, I began to realize that it’s much more of a discipleship issue than simply Christian morals. I firmly believe that if Christian girls were discipled better, this whole bikini issue wouldn’t be quite so blatant.

Here is the Scripture I feel makes it clear that bikinis are not acceptable if you proclaim the name of Christ:

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. -1 Cor. 10:23-33

Okay, this is somewhat deep, so bear with me.

Paul is talking about meat offered to idols, yes. This was a big cultural issue back then. While in and of itself, the meat was still just fine, the fact that it had been used in a sacrifice to idols made it questionable at the very least. If someone had a strong conscience and understood that idols were not real, then it wouldn’t bother them. However, if someone had been, for example, newly saved out of idolatry, then this would be a much larger struggle and they may have difficulty eating this meat with a clear conscience. Paul is saying two things – one: Just don’t ask. If it might be questionable, don’t ask, then you don’t have to worry about it. Two – If you find out it was offered to idols, simply don’t eat it. Not for your sake; for the other person’s sake. Why? Because it’s not about you and the last thing you want to do is make someone else’s faith stumble.

So, how does this translate into our present day culture? Look at the bookend verses of 23-24 and 32-33:

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others… Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

These verses explain Paul’s main point; the meat was just his primary example.

Yes, you have every right to wear a bikini. We live in a “If you have it, flaunt it,” world and girls simply love to embrace that over the summer. It’s true – you can do so. However… it’s not about you. 

Think about it: When a bikini picture is posted on Facebook or Instagram or wherever, what demographic tends to “like” it the most? Your girl friends… or the random boys? What are the majority of comments  – “Oh, what a cute bathing suit!” “What a pretty beach!” Or… “Nice body.”

If the majority of “likes” and comments are focused on your body and are coming from the opposite sex – that’s lust. And lust is sin. Therefore, you, by way of your itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny-yellow-polka-dot bikini, are making guys sin. That’s a big deal, my friend. And it’s wrong.

See, it’s not about you.

If you know Jesus as Savior, then it’s about Him. You are a reflection of Him. Your job is to point people to Him. You are to imitate Him. Causing men to lust after you is simply not a reflection of Jesus Christ.

Is it permissible? Absolutely. Do you look hot? Of course! Should you do it? I would argue – no.

It bothers me that I have to hide my Facebook feed from my husband because of Christian girls posting pictures in skimpy bikinis. My husband, praise God, is devoted to me, but he finds it obnoxious, too, and has been known to report said pictures as pornography. If he’s feeling the need to do that – to Christian girls’ pictures – my question then is, how is this okay?

We need to step out from the world. Not only should our words and actions be different, our dress should be, too. My husband told me recently that girls dressed inappropriately do not make guys’ merely think about sex; they’re already there. They think she’s ready and that becomes their primary goal. Once they have sex, then they’re done. They really are NOT interested in anything else… from her. Sad, huh? How cheap we sell ourselves for a simple Facebook “like” and a Friday night date.

Remember: It’s not all about you. It’s about Him. Reflect Him well. You don’t need to dress like a nun, but you do need to cover a bit more of what your mama gave you in respect for those around you.

My version of 1 Cor. 10:33 in NLT says:

…I don’t just do what I like or what is best for me, but what is best for them so they may be saved.

It’s not about you.

Is God Good?

After coming to grips with the fact that there is a God and that He is alive, I believe the next basic question we all must answer for ourselves is, “Is God good?” 

We are indoctrinated with this from childhood. I just taught my three year old the song, “God is good to me! God is good to me! He holds my hand, He helps me stand, God is good to me.” As teens, I remember beginning youth group with the chant, “God is good!” “All the time!” “All the time?” “God is good!” 

But, at some point during life, reality strikes. Hurt happens. Pain happens. Death happens. Life does not go as we planned, dreamed, imagined, or hoped it would. We say goodbyes too soon. We lose friends, spouses, children in horrible, untimely ways. We live in a world riddled with cancer, disease, pain, and hate. Our world is a strangling place to live. The idea that “humanity is basically good” is completely false; we are inherently evil and that is evidenced no matter where we go on planet Earth.

If you haven’t already, you will soon be smacked in the face with the question, “Is God Good?” 

One of the most fundamental of questions, yet we refuse to analyze it. We just accept that either yes, He is good, or no, He is not. The answer to this question defines your faith in God, for if He is good, then He can be all of His other attributes – loving, kind, long-suffering, gentle, forgiving, etc. However, if He is not good, then He simply cannot be any of what the Bible touts that He is.

Fundamental:

Is. God. Good?

This week, I poured over a new novel. I discovered an author a year ago who’s been on the scene for a while: Joel C. Rosenberg. My sister introduced me to his novels on Iran, which I couldn’t put down. I finished “Damascus Countdown” on my Kindle just recently and an advertisement came up for his newest work: “The Auschwitz Escape.” I’ll just be honest: I’m cheap. I couldn’t afford it on my Kindle just yet, so I reserved it at the library. Being #6 on a waiting list for a book not even in the library system yet, I figured I’d have to wait a while! But, I was pleasantly surprised that only a few weeks went by before I got the email that it was my turn for this new book.

I got it Tuesday. I finished it on Sunday.

I’ve read a lot of stuff on World War 2. I am an avid, shameless fan of Brock and Bodie Thoene and have learned more about World War 2 and Jewish history from their books than any class I’ve taken or history book I have ever picked up. I have read numerous biographies, autobiographies, and historical accounts on all different sides of WW2, yet it never ceases to fascinate me.

I loved how he interwove factual history, timelines, and data while creating a fictional story of intrigue. It was incredibly realistic and read like an action movie that you simply could not stop watching. Or… reading.

A few chapters in, though, I began to start thinking to myself, “Is God good?” Mr. Rosenberg goes into substantial detail when it comes to some of the atrocities that occurred in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Germany, and Europe during this time of history. It is not pretty. In fact, it’s downright appalling to read and imagine, especially when you recognize that it is history, not fiction, that he’s really recounting.

You cannot read an account like this and not wonder how God could let this happen – to His people! These were not just arbitrary individuals – they were God’s chosen people! How could He “stand by” and let this happen? How can a “good God” let so many of His people die such horrific deaths? Why did He not step in, rend the universe, enter time, and rescue them if He loved them so much? Why did He allow children to be thrown into gas chambers, men to be experimented on alive, and women to be gang-raped?

Is God good?

I thought maybe this was just the way my mind was going with the book, but somewhere towards the middle, this question began to be addressed. The main character struggles with the concept of there even being a God, much less a good God. Mr. Rosenberg lays it out so realistically, though, that you don’t feel like it’s a stretch or made-up fiction. It’s a real question that was addressed in a very real manner at a time when the answer was pivotal to humanity.

I don’t believe the answer to this question can be taken lightly. In a way, it is this basic concept that my preschooler can grasp, yet it resonates much deeper than that.

God is not good the way we measure goodness. God is outside of our time, space, and knowledge; He does not answer to us and our way of doing things. He sees the entire picture, not just the moment. God promised He would spare a remnant of His people throughout time – and He has kept that promise. Though we look at the heinous acts of the Holocaust and wonder where God was- God stands above us, pointing to His fingerprints and footprints throughout the entire episode. 

Ultimately, did evil win? Absolutely not. Hands-down, evil did not win. Evil didn’t even come close to wiping out His people or destroying the human race. They tried to destroy any trace of God and His people and all they did was make His name resound stronger and louder than ever before. Look at Corrie ten Boom: after surviving a death camp, she dedicated the rest of her life to rehabilitating Nazis. Through simply her testimony of forgiveness, an untold number of people came to Christ who otherwise may never have heard His Gospel.

Is God good? 

I can’t answer that question for you. I can just say that for me, deep in my heart of hearts, I can say that yes – YES, He is good.

He may not work the way I want Him to, but that does not make Him not good. That just makes me not God.

“God is good to me! God is good to me! Although I’m small, He hears my call. God is good to me.”

June 2014
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