By: Casey Bonilla
Psalm 139:14 – “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well”
What guides your decisions, your actions, and your life? Culture, or Christ?
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10
For pretty much all of history, culture has tried to write the narrative for women. Culture and society have tried to control how women act, speak, dress, and what they should or should not do. The specifics might have changed over time, but the pressure has not. Let’s face it – women have always felt the oppression of the world, in one way or another. In some places today it is more visible, and in others it lies hidden behind a mask of false freedom.
We all face societal pressures, arguably even more so in the digital world. It’s no secret that the rise of social media has set a new bar for expectations, and heightened issues of comparison and striving. If you’ve ever felt the oppression of the world or the cultural pressures to be a certain way, or maybe even both, my heart is with you today. Anyone who has felt this knows that it is not right, but contrary to what the world might think, more autonomy is not the answer.
Christ is. The only way to remain unaffected by the culture around you is to place your desires in God above you. Allowing God to guide your life actually results in more freedom. Rather than being influenced by the world, we become able to embrace who we were created to be, and more able to do what we are meant to do. Solidifying in your heart who Jesus is and what he thinks about you is the only way to push aside the voices of the world. They key difference: what God says about you is the truth. The way society defines women is in a constant state of change, but the word of God has never changed. So I’ll ask you – would you rather strive towards something that could disappear tomorrow, or pursue your Creator, who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow?
Today’s world will offer you false freedom, claiming that you can be whoever you want to be, do whatever you want to do, and that taking control of your own destiny will lead to happiness and liberation. (However, there does need to be a serious change in the way society treats women. There is a difference between forcing women into man-made roles and allowing them to embrace their God-given roles.) “Following your heart” seems like a good idea, until we remember how broken our humanness can be, and how in need of a savior we are. The only true way to freedom is accepting that Jesus has already broken all of your chains.
Jeremiah 1:5 – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you”
If you find yourself making decisions in your life based on what culture says, I urge you to make a shift today. Let Christ be your guide, in everything. We shouldn’t turn to God only in certain situations, but rather turn to him daily for direction in how to live our lives. The world will try to scream lies at you, and the only way to tune it out is by responding with the Word of God. Culture will pressure you, but Jesus will take your burdens.
Questions to Consider:
- Do you struggle with comparison? Or maybe a striving to reach unrealistic standards society has set? Take a look at your social media pages. Is there anything you follow that perpetuates these feelings? Consider unfollowing or muting any pages that might trigger these issues. (This doesn’t need to be permanent, but it could be helpful to remove some of the influence of the world, as you become influenced by Christ).
- Read John 8:3-11. What does this reveal about the difference between the way the world sees, and the way Jesus sees?
- Galatians 5:1 says “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery”. What lies about yourself are you still believing today, that Christ has set you free from? Release those, and replace them with truth in Scripture. – BONUS Activity: If you like to write/journal, take time to write down the lies and burn them outside (in a safe manner) as a physical release to God. Then write the truth from what scripture say and place it on your bathroom mirror as a daily reminder.
- Following Christ is counter-cultural. Is there anything that He has been calling you to that you’ve hesitated to do because of the world we live in? Is there anything in your daily life that you do to please the world, rather than to please Christ? How can you begin to change those habits?
- “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17). Is there anything of this world you need to let go of? Less attachment to this world leads closer to God and His kingdom. How can the mindset of eternity be reflected in your daily choices?
- The Bible is full of the truth about our identity in Christ. What Scriptures can you find that will remind you of your identity as a Child of God?