Back in the 70s my boys watched Sesame Street, and we'd sing this song together: "One of these things is not like the others; one of these things just doesn't belong." They learned early on to recognize incongruous things.
A snowman on a beach. A baseball player pitching an avocado. A kitty cat in the middle of a lineup of meerkats. A cake mix box in the middle of a row of cookbooks. And I love this phrase about incongruity made famous by a politician: A pig wearing lipstick!
Incongruity in the Christian Life
Congruous means "what is suitable or proper." Congruous things make sense together. When something is incongruous, we might say it is "not in harmony or keeping with the surroundings" or other aspects of something. Incongruity is a key element in good humor, but it's not such a good thing in life. I thought of the word "incongruous" as I read some familiar Scriptures.
Romans 6:2 says: "How can we who died to sin still live in it?" This entire chapter reminds the believer that we no longer need to obey our passions and impulses to sin. We are to consider ourselves "dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus" (v. 11).
Yes, there is an ongoing struggle with the presence of sin (Rom. 7:15–23), but the power of sin over us is broken (v. 25) because Christ has redeemed us. We have life in the Spirit (Rom. 8:1–11) and are heirs with Christ (8:12–17).
Our reality is, we are headed for glory with Him (8:18). We are "conquerors (overcomers) through him who loved us" (8:37) and will never be separated from God's love in Christ (8:38–39). These are powerful truths!
Becoming Strong in the Lord
That's why I'm grieved by Christians' light-hearted attitude toward sin today. And I grieve that I accept my own sinning so easily. While it's true that I rest in the grace and mercy of God, why do I keep on trying to justify my sins? Where is my fight for daily holiness?
Wimpy theology makes wimpy women.
I will never forget John Piper's words at a True Woman conference when he reminded us we are not called to be "wimpy" women, but strong! "Wimpy theology makes wimpy women," he said. We must be careful to get our theology straight, but even that's not enough. We must be sure we're living in (acting on) biblical truth!
We get wimpy when we forget we are foot-soldiers in the Lord's army, obliged to obey His every command. We need to remember the battle we're in. So, how do we get ready for battle?
- We must take up our battle armor, and put on every piece. (Eph. 6:11–13)
- We must learn to endure hardship and strive to please our Commander-in-Chief, Jesus. (2 Tim. 2:3–4, 9–10; Matt. 16:24)
- We must fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 1:18–19; 6:12), proclaiming the truth of God's Word and living for Him, no matter how difficult.
- We must stand firm against the attacks of Satan and our own sinful flesh (1 Peter 5:8–9; 1 Cor. 10:12; James 4:7; 2 Cor. 10:3–5).
The world needs to see Jesus' life demonstrated in our day-to-day circumstances. Too often, all people see are sinning saints . . . weak warriors. This should not be. The Holy One calls us to holiness (1 Peter 1:15–17a; Lev. 11:44–45). And Jesus' victory is ours.
We won't be perfect until we get to heaven, but that's not an excuse to continue in disobedience. We have hundreds of opportunities to decide for God every day, and we need to stay engaged—confessing and repenting of sin, and learning to walk in the Spirit.
The battle is the Lord's, but we must not slink away from the battlefield. What could be more incongruous than a soldier sitting out the biggest battle of his life, fiddling with lesser things, and failing to obey his Commander's instructions?
Let's recommit to taking those four steps. We are more than conquerors in Christ!
Where is your life a picture of incongruous living?