One of the more interesting scenes in Genesis is aged Jacob, standing before Pharaoh, the most powerful man in a powerful nation.
What would you have done in that situation? If you were standing before the president of the United States, surrounded by his secret service men, cameramen all around you, what would you say?
Here is Jacob, former deceiver and schemer, now worn by his years of trial and testing, once young and proud, now old and humbled. And what does he do? He blesses Pharaoh. Not once, but twice. I wonder how Pharaoh felt? Did he look down on Jacob, wondering what this mere shepherd was doing trying to bless him, the most powerful man in the nation? Or did he feel the weight of the blessing? That here, in Jacob, was a man who had touched the living God. And now, Pharaoh was getting a taste of the living God right there in his own palace.
I don’t know how he felt. But as I’ve mentioned before, we should be blessing the people around us. When they see us, they should see Christ in us. When we touch their lives, they should feel Christ himself touching their lives.
But though we need to be touching the world around us, we also need to keep our distance from it. In other words, while we need to influence our world for Christ, we need to keep ourselves from being influenced by it. Joseph certainly seemed to have that in mind when his family moved to Egypt. Joseph knew that the Egyptians didn’t worship God, even with all the influence he had there. And he knew that it would be very easy for Egypt to influence his family, just as they had been influenced before Abraham was called out from his home country to come to Canaan. And so he told his brothers and father, “Tell them you’re shepherds. Egyptians kind of look down on shepherds, so by telling them that, they’ll keep you at a distance and you can keep yourselves separate from them.”
Being separate from the world, and yet touching it is a delicate balance sometimes. If we pull ourselves out and only spend time with Christians, we will have no influence on the non-Christians around us. If on the other hand, we spend all our time with non-Christians, we risk being influenced by their values and way of thinking. Neither extreme is good.
For me personally, when I get out of balance, it tends to be the former, because it’s so comfortable to be with people who have the same values as I do. Who think the same way I do. But God has called us to be a blessing to others, and I can’t do that if I don’t associate with the non-Christians around me.
How about you? Are you balanced? Or out of balance? Are you so connected with your Christian friends, that you’re not touching the world? Or are you so connected with your non-Christian friends that they’re starting to influence you?
Lord, help me to find that balance. It’s so hard sometimes, but I want to make a difference for you. Let me be in this world, but not of it. Let me influence others for you, but not be influenced. Let me be separate, yet able to touch this world with your love. In Jesus name, amen.