Challenging the Status Quo

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“Status Quo” is Latin for “existing state.” It means “things as they are now, the existing state of affairs, especially regarding social or political issues.” Generally the term applies to the maintenance of existing social structures and values, or keeping things the way they presently are—what we may call—normal.

One good thing about entering a new year is that it may cause you to stop momentarily, and appraise the life you are living. This is the reason people (myself included) begin diets, make resolutions, start new routines, and turn over new leaves, for the umpteenth time, again, during this season. Basically, we are saying we are unhappy with some of the status quo, the existing state, and decide to make positive changes.

Self-examination is a good thing—and sometimes the status quo needs a makeover.

However, even better than self-examination, is divine-examination. Occasionally, we need to stop and look at ourselves before the Lord. It is wise to expose your whole being to God, whom you cannot avoid anyway, and ask Him to, “Examine me, O LORD, and try me; Test my mind and my heart” (Psalm 26:2).

God’s Word encourages Christians toward introspection, examination, and self-evaluation. Paul commanded the church at Corinth, that, “a man must examine himself” (1 Corinthians 11:28), before participating in communion. A failure in self-examination could result in a church member eating of the bread and drinking from the cup, “in an unworthy manner,” which would make him, “guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord” (verse 27). The final result of observing communion without self-examination and confession of sin would be eating and drinking, “judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly” (verse 28). Some had continued to do this, and, “For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep” (verse 29). For believers, the solution was simple: “But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged” (verse 30).

It was clear then, and should be now—that when Christians examine themselves, confess their sins and draw near to God—by judging themselves rightly in God’s sight—God does not have to condemn them judgmentally. Simply put: the status quo must go, if the existing state is in rebellion against God and His Word.

Another time Christians must examine themselves is regarding their faith in Christ. You can be wrong about many things and still be good to go when it comes to entering heaven—if you have trusted Jesus alone as your Savior. But this is such an important and eternal decision, that we all need to be sure about our faith, that we are truly trusting Him.

God’s salvation is always, only, ever, received one way: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). God’s truth is: “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). The “washing of regeneration” signifies the cleansing of the new birth you receive when you are born again. The “renewing of the Holy Spirit” refers to you being made a new person by the work of God’s Spirit within you, when you trust in Christ.

Since salvation always comes by grace through faith, and never as a result of works performed—having assurance about it is the most important knowledge we can possess. Why is this so important? It is invaluable because it affects our eternity. This fact is so vital that Paul commanded the Corinthians, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Paul wanted each of them to examine themselves, to see that they had really trusted Christ to save them. He wanted them to know that “Jesus Christ is in you”—that He indwelt them. The indwelling Christ, in the person of His Holy Spirit, comes to each believer when he or she personally receives Christ. The apostle John put it this way, “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

The indwelling of Christ, by His Spirit, is the most precious possession believers may have. This truth is difficult to understand, from the human view. In fact, Paul stated that it was a “mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints” (Colossians 1:26). However difficult to comprehend, it is the very riches of God’s glory, “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (verse 27). The hope of glory for you and me is the indwelling person of Christ through the Holy Spirit.

As we begin this New Year, I hope you will join me in challenging the status quo in our own lives. May we pray the prayer of David: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Author: Larry E. Clements

Follower of Christ, fortunate to be husband to Pat, father of 5, grandfather of 12, writer, associate pastor of Pauline Baptist Church

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