Recently I have been engaged in a few conversations regarding the unpopularity of Christianity today and what believers should be doing to improve the public view of the Church. I understand why some Christians feel this is a relevant conversation, but it reflects a focus on the wrong priority. Christ has already warned us that our message will not be popular in the world. In fact, He told us if we carry His message forward correctly that it would bring the same persecution He faced.
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:18-19 NKJV)
Just to be clear, this writing is by no means meant to justify the deeds of the cold-hearted, hypocritical, and deluded people who claim to follow Christ; however, they refuse to love others as they themselves want to be loved. Those who identify themselves as servants of Christ, yet their god is their belly and they do not treasure the things that Christ loved. These people are not suffering the persecution of Christ, they are reaping the hate they have sown. The book of Jude speaks in detail about this crowd.
I am writing to address this false belief and doctrine that if we just love people the way Christ loved them, then the church would be more popular in the world. With that put forth, Christ is then portrayed as this super nice guy who is never critical and goes out of his way not to hurt anyone’s feelings or make anyone uncomfortable. This too is the spirit of anti-Christ and slithers like all the lies of Satan. It is meant to strip the power of truth from the message of the gospel to hinder the work of salvation. The uncompromised truth of the gospel is the sharpened sword of light used to cut through the fetters of darkness that hold men captive. When we hold back the truth or modify the message of Christ to keep people from being upset by it, we dim the light of the sword and leave people captive to the lies which bind them.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Roman 1:16-17 NKJV)
Holy scripture teaches us that where there is pride there is shame.
2 When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom. 3 The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them. (Proverbs 11:2-3 NKJV)
Do you take pride in pleasing men? Where do you get your sense of worth and how do you measure success? This is what is at play. If we take our queues from people of the world then the shame which comes from their hate of Christ becomes a hinderance to our effectiveness as His servants.
43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? (John 5:43-44 NKJV)
Are you living to promote the name of Christ for His purposes and glory or are you living to promote yourself as a good person in the eyes of man? Trying to please people whose values have been lost in darkness will result in the blind leading the blind. We must focus on pleasing GOD alone and then we will be filled with His light. The light which flows from this dedication is the light which leads to Christ and the salvation of the soul. Good intentions are the evidence of the knowledge of good and evil, but obedience is from the tree of Life. In our service to GOD, we are not called to try and control the outcome. Christ alone is the author and finisher of our faith. We have been called to do what the spirit compels us to do in the moment and then to entrust the outcome with Him.
Who are they which persecute Christ but those who are proud in their sin, still loving their life.
20For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. (John 3:20 NKJV)
Understand, it is not the presentation of the gospel, or the terminology used in calling men to repentance, it is the light that people hate. Christ is the light of the world, if you let His light shine through you then those who hate the Light will hate you also. If people become fond of you but still hate Christ, are you then able to write their names in the Lamb book of life? No one else can even open the seals on it, not to mention write in it because there is but one author of life and salvation (Revelations 5). Servants of Christ must decide if they are going serve GOD or man, if they are going to be hot or cold, if they will be glorious lights or dim reflections. The servants of Christ must come to terms with life in the desert, going to the cross without family and friends, and what it means to be sojourners from another world. If we are to love, we must love in spirit and in truth or else all we are doing is bartering for acceptance or other things we want.