Where do we “dwell”?

We have all seen many opinions and comments about what should be done in the aftermath of the latest school shooting. One of the quotes that is commonly posted on social media when these things occur is the hypothetical note that states:
“Dear God, Why do you allow so much violence in our schools? Signed, a concerned student.
Dear Concerned student, I’m not allowed in schools.  ~God”
There is a bit of truth to this and in our world. Evidence in our own nation of a clear move away from God, godly lifestyles and obedience to God’s standards is not hard to find. Things like allowing a child to decide if they are a boy or girl, legalization of homosexual marriages and the prosperity gospel and lifestyles are just the tip of the iceberg. None of this should be a surprise to us at all. It is also certainly no surprise to God.

God told the Israelites this would happen thousands of years ago. He did not specifically say that homosexual marriage would be legalized or the other things above, no, but he did warn of snares. He warned his people in Exodus what would happen if they allowed themselves to mix with the pagans in the lands they would be moving in to. He warned that mixing with them would make them sin against Him, because slowly God’s people would turn to serving other gods. Choosing to adopt their customs, worship their gods and harden their hearts to sin, as defined by God, would snare them. It would draw them away from God. It would make them oblivious to the path God was leading them on. They would miss out on blessings God had ready for them. It would destroy their relationship with God. It would snare and corrupt all areas of their life and it did.

It started by mixing and mingling with their pagan neighbors, allowing their lives to be influenced by them. We, naturally, are just as susceptible to this mixing and mingling. God’s warning was that they not serve the gods of their neighbors, but this came from slowly being influenced by their lifestyles. So, where do our influences come from? The same place as the Israelites. They come from those around us who tell us things, invite us to join in activities with them, who hold things in high esteem and encourage us to do the same. So again I ask, who does that to you? Who does that to me? Most of the friends that I spend time with are believers, so for me, it is probably not them. That doesn’t mean I am not influenced or don’t have other voices trying to persuade me. I do. They come through my tech podcasts who can be very liberal in thoughts beyond technology. On facebook or instagram I see pictures of others lives and am pushed to consider if my life measures up in the same way as theirs appear to. My own tendency to be accepted by my peers (remember: peer pressure never ends) can fuel a desire perhaps to overlook a conviction God has given me about a show that perhaps “everyone else” is watching. These are my “modern day” pagan neighbors. The influences are still very much there.

I, just like the Israelites, need to be on my toes daily making sure I am not slowly mixing and succumbing to the snares. You do too. Who and what are your “pagan” neighbors? If you don’t know, you are in trouble, because the snare is there. God’s warning still stands “They shall not dwell in your land.” To dwell is to stay for a long time. To spend most of our time somewhere. Our “land” is our home, friends, computers, apps and anything else where we “live” consistently hour by hour, each and every day. Do not “dwell” amongst pagan influences more than godly ones or you and I will serve other gods. Reject any ideas that are counter to what you and I know as truth in God’s word, no matter where it is coming from. It is not a question God is asking here. Instead, He is stating a fact about what will happen if we choose to “dwell” with them, and it is not good.

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