The hardest part of being a Christian is taking action. Doing something almost always entails the possibility that someone will not like it. And the biggest delusion that much of modern day Christianity is under is that the most important thing to God is that His Church (ergo each and every Christian) be liked. If you want to be liked then you stay away from doing things that people will frown upon.
If you want to be liked you don’t talk about obedience. If you want to be liked you don’t demonstrate convictions. If you want to be liked you don’t walk in faith. If you want to be liked you have to hide or camouflage your disagreement or disapproval. In other words, if you want to be liked you have to nod in agreement about…everything.
I have noticed an unmistakable pattern in life. What lies at the bottom of those who have caused me the most trouble is this: they knew I didn’t like something about them. Either it was their beliefs or their behavior (or both). Trouble ensued as soon as it was discovered. Over and over again I have had the option in life to “go-along-to-get-along” or let it be known that I don’t cotton to this or that.
Over and over again as I or a member of my family have been subjected to all that goes along with being hated I have opined to myself, “Why, oh why, didn’t I just keep my mouth shut!” “Why didn’t I just do what they wanted me to do?” The answer has always been there for me as it has for everyone else. It’s really quite simple: Because doing defines being.
People of the Bible really ought to have this figured out by now. Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Clearly, what is said does not create the state of the heart. Rather, it reveals it. The action defines the condition. Wasn’t that the whole purpose of the Ten Commandments? Not to create a righteous human being but reveal unrighteousness within. As Paul puts it, “For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law” (Galatians 3:21).
One of the silliest things I’ve ever heard said (and I’ve heard it quite often) is “Well, God knows my heart.” My first thought is always “And you are comforted by that?” That’s what the pastor hears when a congregant slept in on Sunday or blurted out something unkind without hesitation. The action reveals the being. Maybe we wish or hope that the action has nothing to do with the state of our hearts but the Bible doesn’t give us that.
That brings me back to the first sentence of this blog. The hardest part of being a Christian is taking the action that a regenerated heart requires. It is simply a given in this sin laden world that letting the light of a redeemed soul shine will be met with all kinds of opposition. I am quite literally astonished that so many churchgoers truly believe that the church is not the place to bring up politics or the issues that face the country today. I want to say to them, “Ladies and gentlemen, what is that thing up there on the wall or on that altar? It’s a cross! It would have no message or meaning today had Jesus decided that His job was to be well-received and liked.” Moreover, He stood squarely on the side of the prophets. What was their job? To bring to light the sin(s) of the nation!
I understand that no one wants to be demeaned, ridiculed, hated, and reviled. But we are not told to “cherish the truth in love.” No, it’s “speaking the truth in love…” (Ephesians 4:15). It’s not “love the light within” but “let your light shine before others” (Matthew 5:16). Jesus didn’t promise His disciples that He and the Holy Spirit would see to it that once people found out they were Christ followers they would be loved and appreciated by all. No, my Bible says, “you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9).
If you want to be accepted and liked and not have to deal with unpleasant situations and people then continue to live a lie. Pretend you believe that whatever anyone wants to do it is none of your business. Make sure your church stays out of politics. Convene a meeting with other likeminded people in your church to make sure the pastor knows preaching on anything that some might take offense to is off limits. Just keep working on making sure your church grows by giving people the things that they want. Keep going to public events and believing your words and actions aren’t really speaking like a megaphone to people about the true state of your heart.
Doing defines being. I don’t know any other statement in the Bible that makes it any more clear than this one: “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done” (Revelation 22:12). You are what you do.