A young person who had grown up in the church recently suggested to me she had heard these ideas all her life and wanted to explore new ideas. She was not a conformist! She wanted to think for herself, be unique.
I told her that if she really wanted to be a rebel, she should adopt Christian ideals. Like many comments from an older person like me, the statement hit the floor with a loud clank.
The world is not benign; it wants us to conform. It will cajole, threaten, but it will not relent! Paul warns us not to be “conformed to the world” (Romans 12:2). God calls on us to take no more part in the world. “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4). This makes one think of Lot and his family with the angels urging them to get out.
Yes! The world is facing disaster. A little unpopularity now versus surviving the disaster seems a pretty good exchange. Christians should “enter the narrow gate,” choose the unpopular route (Matthew 7:13,14).
To be a Christian is to be a part of the minority. Those who choose the way of Christ go through the narrow gate.
Jesus warned his disciples that they would “all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered’” (Matthew 26:31). It was true: “Then all the disciples left him and fled” (Matthew 26:56). Jesus death was as an outcast: “So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured” (Hebrews 13:12,13).
Maybe we need to toughen up. Is following Christ unpopular? Sure! Are we in junior high still? Can we make decisions for ourselves?
There is heavy pressure on church leaders to conform to the world. Paul pleads with us to “preach the word … be ready in season and out of season” for a day will come “when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:2-4).
Notice the pressures placed on the preacher: “Be ready in season and out of season.” Be emotionally ready to say what needs to be said regardless of whether it is popular.
“People will not endure sound teaching.” “Entertain me! Be relevant! Don’t preach that old fashioned stuff!”
“Having itching ears.” What a great description of the desire to hear sweet things, while avoiding hearing the truth.
“They will accumulate for themselves.” Can you sense the threat here? You will be out of a job unless you tow the line, wow us, entertain us! Otherwise we will choose our own type of preacher.
“Teachers to suit their own passions.” Teachers who are willing to pay the price of popularity.
What I have been building to all along is this: When Christians take stands on conviction – when we speak against adultery, homosexuality, racism and abortion, we will have to expect that the stands we make will be unpopular, because we are in the minority; make no mistake, we simply cannot decide these issues on the basis of what society says!
What I told the young lady who wanted to be a rebel: You want to be a rebel? Then become a Christian! Most of the world is against Christianity! You’ll be a rebel!