I like it when people like me. I want people to like me. I don’t like it when people don’t like me. I kind of feel bad when people make it known to me that they don’t like me, or my opinion on something, or a conviction that I may have. At least at first, then I get over it. Some people say “I could care less if anybody likes me or anything about me”. I wonder about that. That seems kind of like a self centered sentiment. It’s a tricky thing to care about people and yet not care what they think about you.
When you think about it, in dealing with people, Jesus experienced the height of adoration and the depth of wrath and hatred during his earthly ministry. There is a passage of scripture that I had read recently where Jesus addressed pretty bluntly the futility of allowing acceptance or rejection, love or hate, to be the influencers of who you are and what you are about.
But Jesus did not yet entrust himself to them, because he knew how fickle human hearts can be. He didn’t need anyone to tell him about human nature, for he fully understood what man was capable of doing. John 2: 24-25 TPT
The context here is that He was going about doing the miraculous, healing and delivering people and preaching the Good News. And as a result, many believed in Him, but… He did not entrust himself to them, He wasn’t going to allow their opinion of him sway Him or cause him to deviate in any way from His Fathers purposes. He understood that many of those praising Him today would soon be complicit to the cries to have Him crucified.
We’re living in a day where I am seeing people who are simply standing firm in their convictions, without casting dispersion but simply making clear their honest feelings based on authentic beliefs, and they are being absolutely railed on, accused of all kinds of nonsense, from those who may have previously been quite complimentary. As if to say, how dare you have a different perspective than me (or us), and if you were really a decent person (or even a real Christian) you would change your way of thinking and acting to match ours. It turns out diversity of thought has been grossly devalued and even demonized.
We see this playing out on a grand scale in our culture, and unfortunately it has also infiltrated the Church. And if we are to be honest about it, it’s the Church who must bear much responsibility for the rise of incivility, division, and hatred in the culture. We’ve lost sight of who we are and what is our mission. As the Church we are one Body in one Spirit, sharing one faith, one baptism, one Father. And while we are one, we may express different sentiments or viewpoints, because in fact we are different, different by design, His design. The enemy has a design as well, to bring isolation, division, and separation, fomenting hatred and fear however he can.
There is a spiritual battle raging, and make no mistake, and the spiritual forces of darkness are coming after the Church. We must remember that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but are mighty through God for the pulling down of strongholds. And our shared enemy ultimately will not prevail, but the Church must regroup, and return to the foundations upon which Jesus declared that He himself would build on.
For at least a few years now a primary point of reference that God has been having me operate from and view life from has been has been flavored with the biblical notion of “pure and simple devotion to Jesus.” I’ve sought God on it, studied it, wrote about it, preached on it, it’s been kind of like a seasoning in my heart.
As I’ve written about previously, in seeking what “pure and simple devotion to Jesus” is supposed to look like, the Lord’s response to me was likewise pure and simple in the form of these six words: love hard, stand firm, and stay free. I won’t expound on these here, but I do believe we (the Church), are entering a season where we are being significantly challenged to follow through on each of these basic commands from scripture. We desperately need Holy Spirit power working in us for this to be our reality and our testimony.
Going back to the initial statements in the blog concerning “liking to be liked”, as a Christian we want to affirm our beliefs and convictions in accordance to scripture, and yet not be perceived as a jerk, or intolerant, or weird, or any other uncomfortable classification. The fact of the matter is, for the most part, sorry friend, that just can’t be completely avoided. Hopefully you are none of those things, but try as you might, misconceptions and even false accusations still abound. Which is where stand firm really comes into play, in scripture it’s often referred to as endurance.
In scripture Jesus says a lot of things that serve to “rattle our cage” in a lot of ways, that cause us to squirm and ask ourselves the question “He can’t really mean that, at least not literally, there has to be some “spiritual” connotation, right”? Here’s one example: Matthew 10:22 “…and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” It doesn’t say much for liking to be liked, but it says a lot about endurance, standing firm.
I believe the blood bought Church is entering a season where it will be so imperative to stand firm, to endure. To endure the onslaught that is coming her way from not only the popular culture, but by the compromised church who is more concerned with appearances and unholy alliances than Truth. Get ready for the shaming, for the guilt by association, the outright lies and character assassination, in an effort to put this authentic Church with every sincere believer underfoot as they aspire to remove God from our lives and from our nation. Remember, this is a spiritual confrontation, fought with spiritual strategies, led by the One who has already “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him”(Col. 2:15).
The enduring Church with Jesus as her head will be victorious, she will see restoration, renewal, revival, and awakening, and His Kingdom will be established, on earth as it is in heaven.
That being said, one final thought as it pertains to this election season, and as control of the seats of government have shifted, as they do every two to four years, and how the Church needs to be about the business at hand of establishing the Kingdom.
We’ve all fought and prayed hard for what we’ve believed to be right, I know I have. But now what? There is the story in 2Sam 12 about David fasting and praying and weeping for the life of his child (the one conceived in sin with Bathsheba). While there are many layers to this story, the point I want to emphasize is that when the child had died, David got up, he washed himself, and got back to fulfilling his kingly calling and duties. Up to this point many have been fervently praying, declaring, and decreeing what is deep within your heart regarding the election and all of its ramifications. That is commendable, we should never stop advocating and fighting for what we believe is God’s heart for our nation. But the election is over, it’s time to wash up and get on with it, and to continue contending for that which Jesus died for. As the Church let’s get back to basics, starting with a pure and simple devotion to Jesus, turning our gaze upon the One who is seated above every other authority. Let us turn our focus towards living by the Great Commandment, and to giving ourselves to the Great Commission, and may His Kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is on Heaven.