by pastor david
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Must we always be popular? There seems to be an innate desire in all of us to be liked and loved by almost everyone. To think that there are those who do not like us is often a crushing blow to our inflated ego!
Let me say very quickly that trying to live in such a way that people like us and enjoy our company is a good thing! The Scriptures teach us that we earn the right to be heard and to share the Gospel with our unbelieving friends when we have a pleasant and winsome personality.
However, the message of the Gospel, when presented in its entirety, is not always pleasant and is not always readily received by those who have no personal relationship with Christ.
The Gospel contains both good news and bad news. The bad news is that we are all sinners, separated from God, and headed for a hopeless eternity. The good news is that Christ has paid the price for our wicked ways and has provided salvation to all who will turn from their sins and acknowledge Christ’s Lordship in their lives. (Romans 10:9-10)
All of which begs the question, “Am I willing to be unpopular in order to tell the truth and warn others about that horrible place called hell, which was prepared for the Devil and his angels?”
I am not suggesting that we should be harsh and hostile when sharing the “Good News” of Jesus Christ but that we should be honest, giving people the whole truth, right from the very beginning. Telling a half-truth is a lie and a lie will never produce the kind of disciples described in the New Testament.
Unfortunately, this compulsion to be popular has also worked its way into the fabric of many churches and church leaders. In their desire to be popular, to be well spoken of, and to maintain high attendance numbers, they have sacrificed the purity and simplicity of the Gospel and told half-truths. They preach only the good news and never the bad news.
Believe me, I understand that the Gospel means “good news” and should be presented as such. However, the “good news” is not good unless presented in contrast with the bad. In other words, why do I need a Savior if I do not know that I am a sinner? What does Christ’s sacrifice on the cross mean to me if I am unaware that my sinful condition has alienated me from God? The “good news” is only good news in contrast to the bad news and the gospel, when presented in its entirety, contains both!
Yet, presenting that message is not always going to make you the most popular person on the block or at your place of employment. Nor will that make yours the church that is breaking all the attendance records in town! I am not suggesting that we should try to be unpopular but that we should be willing to be unpopular, if that is what it takes to present the gospel honestly and completely.
As a Pastor, I had to come to a conclusion long ago that was very difficult for me to accept. I had to come to grips with that fact that if I was going to preach the Word of God faithfully and expositionally, I would not always be popular, might not have the most popular church in town, and would probably not necessarily have a very large church. If the Lord blesses me with those things, that’s fine but I am not expecting it.
This is not difficult for me to accept now but in the early stages of my ministry, when the fires of zeal burned almost out of control, these truths seemed to pour cold water on the blaze of enthusiasm. Yet, time and trials have proven all of these things to be true.
The Apostle Paul writes, in 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” I am glad Paul did not say that it is required in stewards that one be found “popular”. We are not required to be popular but we are required to be “faithful” to Christ and to the Gospel.
Yes, we should be willing to be unpopular, if that is what it takes to present the gospel honestly and completely.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
If there is a watchword that describes the Western mind-set today, it is the word tolerance. Many folk, in the Western world, worship at the shrine of tolerance. In the shaping of public opinion and the forging of national policy, many esteem a broadmindedness, which says any values, if sincerely held, are equally valid. There seem to be no absolutes today. The only absolute is that there are no absolutes. In our day, people tolerate everything except intolerance.
Webster defines the word tolerance like this: “The allowable deviation from a standard, sympathy, or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing or conflicting with one's own."
That, in a nutshell, is the Western world. There is an openness that embraces almost anything morally, politically, or educationally.
George Gallop, America's pollster, says that 67% of Americans today believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth.
In other words, right and wrong vary from situation to situation. It may be wrong for me, but right for you. For instance, they say if homosexuality is right for you, then that’s fine. If it is not right for you, well, that is fine, too. Whatever works for you is right for you. If it feels good, do it. However, the consequences of that way of thinking are terrifying.
Like ancient Israel, we have become a people who have forgotten how to blush. Nothing shocks us anymore. Tragically, we have become desensitized to sin. In the name of tolerance, we have now opened the floodgates to embrace every form of wickedness. An absolute standard of right and wrong is becoming a dusty page of ancient history. Who is to say which abnormal perversion will be accepted next? Will it be polygamy? What "alternative lifestyle” will be next to be embraced?
As the church, we are beginning to feel the tightening noose of the world around us. If we are not careful, we will soon be choked to death by public consensus. Yet, Paul warns us, "Be not conformed to this world…” (Rom 12:2)
I am certain you know the difference between a thermostat and a thermometer! A thermostat regulates the temperature while a thermometer simply registers the temperature. If given the choice, a wise person would always choose a thermostat over a thermometer. A thermostat is much more valuable than a thermometer because of its power to bring about change.
It is time for the Church of Jesus Christ to begin to transform the world around us rather than allowing the world to conform us.
"Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-make you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed.” (Romans 12:2 - The New Testament in Modern English, J. B. Phillips)
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
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