The old idiom “going against the grain" is older than the writings of Shakespeare and, according to some folks, is derived from the world of carpentry referring to the best practice of working wood in the direction of the lines of grain. The practical application of this idiom is that if an idea or action goes against the grain; it is the opposite of what you feel is right or normal and you find it difficult to accept.
The Christian lifestyle often “goes against the grain” of society and the followers of Jesus feel uncomfortable living out their faith outside of their groups they normally associate with. If we, as believers, are to be successful in our fellowship with the Saviour we must “go against the grain” of the world we are pilgrimaging through. We are reminded in the word of God that we are not citizens of this world but citizens of the kingdom of God. The Apostle Peter makes this clear with these words:
“…ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Pe 2:9)
Different is good. When followers of Jesus live a life that is differentiated from the rest of the inhabitants of this world by our thoughts, actions and purpose; we will feel the “grain” of this world against us. The wiseman Solomon, in a series of “one-liners”, observes the power of going against the grains of society in his musings found in the book of Ecclesiastes.
Solomon makes this observation:
“I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.” (Ecc 10:7)
This observation would be considered an oxymoron and out of the mainstream of cultural acceptance.
People of faith indeed “go against the grain” of society. Here is a sampling of Jesus’ words that is an enigma to society:
“Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” (Luke 6:28)
“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.” (Mat 5:39-40)
“But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Mat 23:11)
The princes that Solomon saw walking were imprinted to his memory for life. Solomon had seen thousands of princes in his life but it was the ones that he saw walking while their servants rode horses that left a lasting impression.
This enigma of protocol made Solomon to not only recall this “going against the grain” of society but question why this choice was made by the prince. When you are following the teachings of Jesus and people see you “walking” when they are “upon horses” they too will take notice of your lifestyle.
A prayer in public before you eat, a kind word when harsh words are spoken, forgiveness when offenses are made against you, compassion that is unwarranted, love that is given when it is rejected; all are confusing to the lost and undone.
How about you? Are you an enigma to society? Are you going against the grain of the evil in this world? Are you living a lifestyle that is driven by the word of God and the world observes as strange or weird? The Apostle Peter speaking to how the world should view our lifestyle choices said:
“Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.” (1 Peter 4:4)
Jesus gives us this warning, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you!” (Luke 6:26) To have the blessing of God’s favor is far better than the praises of men. You will have enemies if you live your life for Jesus in full view of the lost and undone in this world but that fades into the joy of living a life in the favor of God.
The power of personal choice is demonstrated in these words:
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Jos 24:15)
Will you choose to be a “servant walking”? One that will bring the attention of the world to God’s saving grace that you received or will you just ride the same horse as the rest of the world? The choice is yours. Be like Joshua and say, “…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
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