Nobody want’s to be the outcast or the reject. Even people who seem like they want to be the outcast and rejects do so because at some level they want to be approved for their non-conformity. Man is a social creature and as a result we seek the approval and respect of others. It is for this reason that peer pressure works. The reason Fad’s catch on is because once we see people doing something we instinctively want to be a part of it.
The problem is that this desire has seeped its way into Christianity and made us lose sight of the fact that our religion is strange and radical. I already wrote on this phenomenon earlier, but I completely failed to mention why so many Christians have settled for the bland Andy Griffith Show Christianity that is so popular in America today. The problem is that we really don’t want to be persecuted.
Now I should clarify that only a sadist wants to be persecuted. I’m not saying we should go out of our way to try to get people to persecute us, but at the same time we can’t be afraid of it so much so that we censor and edit what we believe.
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” – 1 Timothy 3:12-13
In Paul’s letter to Timothy he tells his young apostle in training that everyone who want’s to live a life in Christ will be persecuted. To rephrase, if you aren’t getting at least some persecution then you are probably not doing it right. Harsh I know, but don’t get mad at me… if anything get mad at Paul. While you’re at it, get mad at Jesus too:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:10-12
Jesus didn’t come to bring peace (contrary to popular belief) and in fact he pretty much guaranteed that if you really try to follow in his footsteps you will persecuted.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” – John 15:18-20
There is a big trend in Christianity to try to paint Jesus as a peaceful, loving, desert hippie that just wanted us to love each other. While Jesus did say that peace-makers are blessed, and that we should love our fellow man more than ourselves, he also said a lot of things that pissed a lot of people off. Jesus had rocks thrown at him multiple times while he was preaching (John 8:59), one time people tried to throw him off a cliff (Luke 4:28-30), and then of course there was the crucifixion that we are all familiar with.
Jesus offended a lot of people by what he was saying. He was not a very tolerant person. Sure he loved sinners, but he was never awkwardly trying to avoid talking about sin because he was afraid of what people would think about him. The early Christians realized that it is far more loving to call our sin and offer repentance and redemption than to spare feelings and tolerate people right into hell. If you love someone you have to hate what hurts them and does them harm. If you really and truly love someone you have to hate their sin, just as you hate your own.
I guess what I’m getting at is we have got to stop censoring our faith. We can’t get in the habit of avoiding tough truths in order to spare feelings or because we are afraid of what people will think. You shouldn’t be out to impress people, you should be out to serve God. If Christianity is true, then it is real and radical. If you preach what Christ preached and walk like Christ walked then you will be persecuted. That might just mean you are verbally shamed and abused. That might mean something more severe. Christianity should never fit comfortably into our culture because it is counter cultural and counter world at it’s very core. We either have to embrace the fact that Jesus actually meant what he said, or we can just keep on being once a week comfy social clubs that I see all over the place.