This topic is something which may make a few of you squirm in your seats. I know that this is touchy subject though I still do not fully understand why—as this is a topic which I have brought up a few times in conversation to some Christian friends, and almost every time I do I am met with darting eyes, uncomfortable glances, sarcastic comments, or even—sadly—anger. But I have always thought: If someone is doing something good, even if they are not doing everything as it should be done, can we not learn from the good things they are doing?

The truth is, we live in a world where almost anything goes in terms of Christianity, and the lines between the followers of Christ and the followers of themselves/something else /everything/ nothing are becoming extremely blurred. Do not get me wrong, I know there are many people out there who are truly striving to make Christianity their own and make a difference— but there are also too many times where followers of Christ are too happy to blend in and be as much like the world as possible. There are too many people who are too happy to simply believe the world’s lies.

Let us hold that thought for a minute now. If you are someone who does not believe in God and the Bible, then that is your choice, of course—though we have evidence that the Bible is inspired or “God breathed”—God made you a creature of free will. If you have chosen to follow your own path, then there is really no moral compass guiding you, so you have reason to do or do not as you see fit. I understand why an unbeliever would not hold to a particular code of ethics.

However I find myself continually perplexed when I see those who profess to be followers of Christ trying to blend in with the world as much as possible and blur the lines of morality. Perhaps they are doing this unintentionally—but then, we need to realise that that is the problem. We cannot simply blend in. We cannot live unintentionally.

The Christian life should and must be lived intentionally.

I heard this statement once in a lesson: “If you really believe that what you believe is really real, then you will turn the world upside down.” Think about this: Do you really believe in what you are living for?

This is where the lessons from our Muslim friends come in. You see, I live in a country where there is a considerably large Muslim population (about 15% of those aged over 15 are Muslims), and the adjoining country of Malaysia is a Muslim nation. While there are obviously things they do that I do not agree with as a Christian, there are some things I see that should put Christians everywhere to shame—they are clear evidence of the truth of the above statement: they are turning the world upside down with their uncompromising beliefs.

They do not compromise in their standard of dress under any circumstances.

I know too many followers of Christ, despite the Bible exhortation to be modest (1 Timothy 2:9, 10), to let their spouses only be satisfied with their naked bodies (Proverbs 5:19; Genesis 2:25) and to not cause the opposite sex to lust after them (Matthew 5:27, 28; Matthew 18:6), who are all too happy to follow along with the world’s definition of modesty. They are often all too happy to take all their clothes off to swim, save a few strips of cloth. Often I hear the complaints that it is too hard to find modest swim wear, it looks strange, or it is inconvenient.

I saw something very refreshing in contrast a few months back. One day when I was passing a pool in which I was so accustomed to seeing filled with naked bodies, I saw a few women splashing about in what at first appeared to be to be dress clothes—they were fully dressed, neck to toe! There was not a thing inappropriate about the way they were dressed. When I looked closer I realised that it was actually swimwear they were wearing.

These Muslim women do not make these excuses. They take their modesty seriously—and because they refuse to take their clothes off to swim, they now have their very own range of modest swimwear. What would happen if the majority of Christians did not compromise? What could we make happen?

They do not compromise on alcohol.

There are many Christians who say that drinking alcohol is a culturally relative idea—that we can drink in the right context or under the right circumstances—despite the commands to remain sober (1 Thessalonians 5:6-9), and to keep away from drunkenness (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:10; Galatians 5:19, 20; et al.). Here in Singapore, however, we have a rather large selection of nice non-alcoholic wines. Why? Are the Christians demanding that they have a non alcoholic wine selection? No, it’s the Muslims—they refuse to drink any alcohol, and concessions are made for them. I even heard them concerned about sugar-free gum with its sugar alcohol—because they do not even want to drink a drop . What a contrast.

They do not compromise in their viewing choices.

Lately I have noticed there are many followers of Christ posting up on Facebook about a number of TV shows that are increasingly out of line with the standard put in place in God’s Word (think Philippians 4:8).

“Game of Thrones” is one example—if there ever was a perverted show, this is it. It rated 10/10 for sex, nudity, violence, gore and profanity—or in other words—it cannot get any worse. Really, the parental guide for the show should be enough to make you sick, let alone actually watching the show!

Yet, while many are willing to simply watch such things for “a good story,” when I cross over the border to Malaysia I can watch TV without having to deal with any of this smut. The Muslims have a strict set of channels and they censor out sex, violence, profanity, nudity, and even, at times, immodesty. They are taking what they take in seriously. What would happen if more Christians were serious about their viewing choices?

They demand to be given time and place to observe worship as they believe it should be done.

While many followers of Christ struggle to even tell others they are Christians, the Muslims are making sure that they have their prayer rooms and the opportunity to take a break so they can pray to Mecca 5 times a day. Because they do not compromise, they are granted their requests.

What is it saying when we are happy to skip Bible classes or church on Sunday in order to earn some more money or look good to the boss? Who then seems the more religious to the world? Does it look like we are really convicted in our beliefs? Are we acting like we believe what we believe is really real?

Ok, so I know there are Muslims out there who are simply going along with the practices and do things they should not, or are forced to conform–– as this is often the argument people bring against learning lessons from this group of people. Be reminded however there are many who seriously believe that what they are doing is right—and it is that group that are “turning the world upside down.” The world caters to them because they do not compromise.

I once read in an article by a Christian woman that a Muslim man was disgusted with Christianity because of the things he saw a so-called Christian nation engaging in. Are we putting the name of our Lord to shame because of our conduct (cf. Romans 2:23, 24)?

Do you really believe that what you believe is really real? Act like it. Turn the world upside down. Do not compromise. Our Muslim friends are proof that when you do not give way on morality, things will move for you. You can find something decent to wear. You can remain sober. You can choose not to give your money to unwholesome entertainment. You can get that day off of work. With a small group of 120 people (Acts 1:15), it was said of the early Christians in a few short years that they had grown and managed to turn the world upside down (cf. 17:6). There are so many more of us, and if we are convicted and stand firm then we too can make our impact on the world—but we can only make an impact if we do not compromise (cf. 5:29).

Live with conviction.

“If you really believe that what you believe is really real, then you will turn the world upside down.”

By Chantelle Swayne

This article appears in the September issue of “Think” magazine.