The hardest part of being a Christian is the doing of the believing. Doing something almost always means 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 (the people who constitute the body of Christ) be liked. But if you want to be liked then you stay away from doing things that the lost may need for you to do (like call sin what it is).
If you want to be liked you don’t talk about obedience. If you want to be liked you don’t demonstrate conviction about your faith. If you want to be liked you make a point of agreeing with people and accommodating their views and opinions even when they clearly contradict Scripture. If you want to be liked you sit down rather than stand up. If you want to be liked you must adopt the “go-along-to-get-along” life philosophy.
Do you remember when Jesus told the young rich man who wanted to know what he had to do to inherit eternal life that he must “sell all that you have and give to the poor…”? (Mark 10:17-22) That was not what the wealthy young man wanted to hear. But Jesus wasn’t interested in being liked by him. He told him what he needed to hear. And in so doing, lost a potential follower and friend. How easy it would have been to just put His arm around the young man and say something like, “Just keep on doing what you’re doing and eternal life will be waiting for you.” Yet Mark wrote, “And Jesus, looking at him loved him” (v. 21) and then answered his question.
Doing defines being and believing.
We 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 has always been “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.
Once again, let me reiterate: the hardest part of being a Christian is doing what we say we believe. Obedience. It is simply a given in this sin-sick and sin-proud world that letting the light of a redeemed soul shine will be met with backlash and opposition.
It is astonishing that so many churchgoers believe that the church is not the place to bring up politics or the cultural issues that fly in the face of the Word of God. The Great Commission seems to have been rendered the Great Accommodation. While it is true that some people are ready to repent and become disciples after hearing that God loves them, it is also equally true that some people (like the woman at the well in John 4) need to have their sexual immoralities exposed while others (like the crowd at Pentecost in Acts 2) need to be reminded that they had demanded the death of the Son of God.
I understand that no one wants to be demeaned, ridiculed, hated, or reviled (and that includes me!). 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 they would be loved and appreciated by all for their personal faith in Him and their sacrifices for Him. No, they were told, “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 what they want (isn’t that how the politicians who make the laws are getting elected?). 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 clearer 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 must do what you believe.