Why follow the crowd if it’s going the wrong way?

If I could give just one piece of advice to someone, it would be to be careful who you hang around with. I wasn’t, and now I’m in prison because I got talked into doing some things that I knew were wrong. Maybe you can help someone by passing this along. — K. McF.

Thank you for your letter — and for your concern that others not make the same mistakes you did. We don’t always learn from the mistakes of others — but we should, because we won’t always escape from the traps that snared them.

The pressures from people around us can be very intense, and if we aren’t alert we can be swept along before we even realize it. Why is this? One reason is because we all like to be liked — and because of that, we find it hard to resist the crowd and go a different way. Why follow the crowd if it’s going the wrong way? The Bible warns, “Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. … The way of the wicked is like deep darkness” (Proverbs 4:14-15, 19).

But there’s another reason why we find it hard to do what is right. The reason is because our hearts are not in tune with God. We want to live for ourselves instead of Christ — and as a result, we ignore His moral laws and leave Him out of our lives. But when we do, we pay a very steep price.

Has this happened to you? Perhaps it has — but don’t stay on that road any longer. God loves you in spite of what you’ve done, and Christ wants to forgive you and set your feet on a new path.

Recently, a friend had a kidney transplant that probably saved his life, and it’s made me want to be an organ donor. Would anything in the Bible forbid this? — D.L.

Organ transplants were developed only in the last few decades, so they aren’t mentioned explicitly in the Bible. But I find nothing there that would forbid them — and in fact there’s much in the Bible to support them.

For example, the Bible reminds us that our lives come from God, and because of that, human life is sacred and we should do everything we can to preserve it. Do you remember the story Jesus told about the Good Samaritan? (You can read it in Luke 10:25-37.) It tells about a man traveling along a lonely road who was beaten, robbed and left for dead. Others ignored him, but one man (a member of the despised Samaritan race) stopped, bandaged his wounds, then took him to an inn and paid for his care. He did all he could to save a stranger’s life — and so should we.

Talk over your desire to become an organ donor with your family; they need to be aware of your intentions. Then take whatever steps are necessary to register as a donor in your state. Recently the life of a dear friend of mine was spared through a heart transplant, which came from someone who had registered only weeks before as an organ donor.

The Bible does, however, talk about another type of “organ transplant” — and that is the new life God gives us when we come to Christ. The Bible says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you” (Ezekiel 36:26). Have you experienced this in your life? You can, by asking Christ to come into your heart today.

How can I be a better Christian? I get along pretty well most of the time, but then I’ll get upset at something and lose my temper, or fall down in some other way, and then I realize I’m not a very good Christian after all. — D.N.

The first step to being a better Christian — is to be sure you truly are a Christian! Have you confessed your sins to Christ and turned your life over to Him? If you are unsure of your relationship to Christ, commit your life without reserve to Him, and ask Him to help you walk with Him every day.

Then realize that you can’t become a better Christian on your own, or in your own strength. You need God’s help, and you need the resources He has provided to help you grow stronger. In ourselves, we are weak — but when we seek God’s help we discover that the Bible’s promise is true: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him” (2 Peter 1:3).

Just as we need food to keep us strong physically, so we need the spiritual “food” God has already provided for us through His Spirit if we are to be strong. What is that spiritual “food”? First, God has given us His Word, the Bible. Make the Bible part of your spiritual “diet” every day, both by studying it on your own and by hearing others teach it. Job said, “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread” (Job 23:12).

Then God also has given you the privilege of prayer, and the privilege of fellowship with other believers. Prayer connects you with God; fellowship connects you with other believers. Through these means, God will encourage you and use you to help others.

My friend is a very dedicated member of his religious group, and he talks to me all the time about the way so-called Christians have twisted the Bible over the centuries and made it say things it doesn’t really say. How can I know if he’s telling the truth? I’ve never thought about God before. — L.R.

I’m thankful for your new interest in God — and I hope you won’t ever lose it. God loves you and wants you to come to know Him as your friend in a deeply personal way. And this can be your experience, as you open your heart and life to Jesus Christ.

At the same time, I also hope you won’t be misled, and end up taking the wrong road (spiritually speaking). Not every road leads to God, no matter how sincere someone may be who is traveling it. For 20 centuries Christians have had the Bible, and have studied it carefully and thoughtfully — and prayerfully. Does it make sense to believe they all got it wrong, and God has only revealed the truth to a few recently? No, it doesn’t make sense - and you shouldn’t be misled into thinking it does.

The key is to realize who Jesus Christ was, and what He did for you and me. The Bible makes it clear that He was the divine Son of God, sent from heaven to save us from our sins. Through His death on the cross He paid the price for all our sins.

This is why the Bible says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Trust Christ alone for your salvation today, and then ask Him to lead you to a church where you can grow in your relationship to God.

The Rev. Billy Graham, whose column appears in Faith & Values every Saturday, can be contacted at “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201.