Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.Philippians 2:14-16
When I was a teenager, I knew a girl who had scoliosis. She had to wear what amounted to a hard plastic suit of armor around her torso to force her back to straighten up. It was difficult because she was a teenager trying very hard to fit into the world around her, and nobody else was wearing one of these contraptions. She stood out, some people were awkward around her, and she struggled with some esteem issues. This did not seem fair, but the brace was necessary to help correct the condition. Left untreated, she faced the possibility of a lifetime of back, shoulder, and neck pain, mobility issues, and (in severe cases) respiratory, cardiac, and digestive system issues.
Today we have Paul calling the church to stand distinct in the ancient world. The world’s ailment was that it was crooked and twisted. The Greek word for crooked, by the way, is “σκολιός” (skolios), which is how “42” led me to the memory above. The church was rescued from this ailment; it was to avoid returning to such behaviors symptomatic of the crooked condition. Otherwise, left untreated, the condition could return and lead to future problems.
The twenty-first century world is no different from the first century. Sure the technology and the information are vastly different, but the world is the world. It is fallen, crooked, twisted, and angry. There is plenty to go around!
We are called by “42” to stand up straight. By standing straight, we will be different from the world that which often leads to awkward situations and even cause us to feel the need to knuckle under to esteem issues and peer pressure. Grumbling and disputing is a way of the world, and the church is supposed to avoid that. We are to stay on the straight path or road that was paved for us by our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.
FYI – The word sin in Hebrew is חָטָא (chata), which basically means to stray from the straight path. In other words, be crooked.