Summary: The Christian walk is more than a Sunday stroll -- are we really willing to join in the journey of faith
Wanted, men for polar expedition. Harsh climate, little pay, bitter cold, severe winds, starvation. Little likelihood of safe return. For those who do, glory. If you’ve been listening to Christian radio lately, you’ve likely heard that story. It’s a true one.
In a lot of ways, that ad could have run for people willing to follow Christ. Wanted, human beings. To be hated, despised, misunderstood, and betrayed. Because they killed Him, they will try to kill you. But some will listen, and because of your faithful witness, they will receive everlasting life. If you persevere in the struggle by the power of the Holy Spirit, not only will you stand with Jesus, but you’ll be rewarded by Him in glory.
When we’re open to the Lord, people will hate us.
All of us want to be appreciated. If we’re not, or if we think we’re not, we’ll often pout – maybe even sing silly little songs like “no one likes me, everyone hates me, guess I’ll just eat worms.” We realize that what we want is not often what we get, but we still try to be loved and liked. Jesus said that we will be hated if we follow Him. That’s hardly a great recruitment slogan. But if you’ve been a follower of Christ for any amount of time, if you’re really seeking to follow Him, then you know it’s true. Unfortunately, most of us think we’d ought to be liked and respected, not hated. Where do we get that idea?
Since this seems to be a national problem, maybe it stems from the birth of our nation. The Declaration of Independence states that we have the “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Never mind that those who framed the declaration understood the pursuit of happiness to mean the right to own property. We think we should get everything we want when we want it. If we think that, we’re wrong. Jesus said, “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.”
By the way, do you see who it is that will hate you? It shouldn’t be those within the body. They should come alongside you and tend your wounds. The world, though, they’ll turn on you. Are you ready to be turned on? Is the door to your life open or shut to the Lord?
Have you noticed what happens when we try to compromise with God’s standards so that the world likes us better? We end up compromising on everything. It’s just little things at first – blood’s too gory to mention in nice circles, so we take the mention of Jesus’ blood from hymnbooks. Then we start to think about how horrible crosses are, and so we remove them from churches, just so those “newcomers” won’t have to be offended. Before long, we realize that we feel bad enough about ourselves without hearing about our own sin, so we want warm messages about how great everything is . . . even if our community is falling apart around us. After awhile, we aren’t a church anymore. We’ve invited in every thought and theory, but we’ve pushed out the Lord Jesus Christ. There’s just no room for Him anymore.
No. We can’t be fooled. If we want everything that God wants for us, there won’t be room for anything else. We’ll be told that we’re crazy. Even called religious fanatics. But it isn’t about religion, it’s about relationship.
Just as a young couple need to pull away from family and friends so that their marriage will be strong, we need to pull away from the world in order to know Christ. But when that happens, just like the family and friends of the bride and groom, we are looked upon as if we are selfish, inconsiderate, and just plain wrong. But those who have been through it know better.
When we’re open to the Lord, we become different from those around us.
Openness is a whole lot more than saying that God can do something if He wants to. It’s telling Him He’s free to do with us whatever He desires – even if we don’t like what happens to us. Honestly, I’ve never heard anyone say they weren’t open to God. But what if He wants to do something with you that you wouldn’t want Him to? Are you open to that? Are you willing to love that person you don’t trust? Are you willing to accept someone you disagree with? What if what He was going to do was make you feel as if He were far, far away from you?