When conformity and self-discovery fall flat

In the movie Witness, a young Amish woman named Rachel falls in love with a police officer who is clearly not Amish.

Her father Eli tells her it’s forbidden and that the community elders could have her punished for her actions which, he says, are childish.

“I’ll be the judge of that!” she says. “No, THEY will be the judge of that,” Eli replies. “And so will I… if you shame me.”

Rachel is visibly upset. “You shame yourself,” she replies.

The interchange reveals two different approaches to life. The one represented by Eli is the way of conformity. It’s the choice to live based on what tradition or certain people expect of you.

The second way is represented by Rachel. Let’s call it self-discovery. In today’s society it’s certainly the more celebrated of the two. It’s a choice to make yourself the sole judge of right and wrong in your life.

But are these the only two options?

In reality, they’re both partial. While Christians certainly honour many traditions, and while it’s certainly important to discover things about ourselves, tradition alone is insufficient to direct us, and we are definitely not the sole judge of right and wrong.

In Rio de Janeiro there is a statue of Christ that stands 30 metres tall and 28 metres wide. It TOWERS over the city from the top of a massive hill. From most places in that city of 6.3 million people, you can see Jesus. In fact, it’s hard to get lost because of it. Why? Because Jesus—with arms outstretched—is the unmoving reference point.

That’s the kind of power he should have in our lives no matter where we live. Jesus is our unmoving reference point so that we don’t lose our way.

You aren’t totally defined by tradition. And you aren’t totally defined by you. If you are a follower of Jesus, you are defined by him.

So live confidently.
He loves you.
He challenges you.
He changes you.
He forgives you.
He grows you.
He heals you.
He teaches you.
He surprises you.
He commands you.
He blesses you.
He embraces you.
He changes you. Again.

Stand firm and trust him. Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). He’s the only Compass in a topsy-turvy the world that will make sure you’re headed in the right direction.

By Matthew Ruttan

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