Unpopular

As a teenager, there were times I felt like, if popularity was a food chain, I would probably have been the termite.

I don’t like to be unpopular.

I don’t like for people to be angry at me either.  I don’t relish when somebody honks at me in traffic or curses me because I forgot about their 99 cent crispy chicken sandwich.

But when I say I’m a Christian, I should be ready to flunk every popularity test, strike out of every popularity show, get voted off every island, and get worst place in every popularity contest.

After all, I am following the most unpopular person in history.

I don’t know anybody in all the world who is so hated as Jesus Christ.  No one curses anyone as much as they curse Jesus.  There is no villain in history brought up so often, or with so much scorn, mocked so much, or so vehemently protested as the person who laid down His life for the sins of others, the person who bled out for those He wanted to forgive.

But why?  Because Jesus knows right and wrong, and He’s not afraid to explain it to us, or rescue us from it.

He loves us, He calls us to run to Him for forgiveness, He wants to shelter us from the wrath we so righteously deserve.  And He is unashamed, unapologetic, unwavering, and unsidestepping when He talks about our sin.

And I follow Him.

Here is what the world does not seem to understand.  I can’t be faithful to Jesus and deny everything He taught at the same time.  If I was to pick and choose teachings to believe in, I would be rejecting Jesus’ all-important claim that He is without sin.  If He makes mistakes, He is not without sin (and He is not God).  And that means there is no reason to believe in Him at all, because, in that case, He wouldn’t be able to save me from my sins.

But I hold that all of Jesus’ teachings, and the entire Word of God which is credited to His ultimate authorship, is infallible.  I fall, but God does not.  He is infallible.

Jesus is the perfect atonement for my sin, and I cannot and will not decide which pieces of His perfect teaching I will accept.  It all fits together, it all belongs to the same picture: God’s will for our lives.

But believing in Jesus comes at a cost.

It means that, as popular and seemingly appealing as universalism and we’re-all-okay mentality is in our world . . I can’t accept it.  I know that Christ is the Path to life, and all other paths lead to Hell.  To pretend otherwise to people headed for Hell would be absolutely cruel.

It means that, as popular and commonly accept as abortion and embryonic stem cell research are . . I have to say its murder.  God forms life, and I have no right to take away what God forms.  To pretend otherwise would be like for me to join in with the masses who believed Hitler was a good ruler.  As offensive as that might sound to people, it is the reality of my faith.  The Bible tells me that all people have value because God breathed life into the first human, and God loved us enough to die for us.  If I was to disregard the life of a child just because I don’t have to see the body parts dumped into a trash bag, or just because the little girl or boy is in the very first stage of life, I would be no better than anyone who saw the truth about Hitler and sanctioned him because it was the most peaceable thing to do.

It means that, as violently angry as people become when any boundaries of sex are brought up . . I have to stand by them.  I can’t endorse homosexuality, because the Bible says it’s wrong.  People may hate me all they want, but that wasn’t my decision to make.  My decision to make–and I am responsible for this one–is to choose who I will serve.  And I have chosen.  And the King I follow says homosexuality is wrong.  But that’s not all, although it seems to be the one people most remember.  Pornography, sex outside of marriage, rape, crude language–all are wrong to God.  And so all are wrong to me.

It means that, as controversial and rage-flaring as it is to say that people matter to me more than bumble bees or tree frogs or gorillas, I have to say it.  It makes sense and it’s Biblical to be good caretakers of what we have been given.  But the Bible says people have dominion over nature, and that means if my choice is to sanction industrialization in Africa so people can have safe drinking water and electricity . . or to subtly deny them their industrialization to try to reduce global warming . . . I’m going to pick A.

It means that if people in Peru need to cut down some rainforests to build cities so their children aren’t exposed to snakes and vampire bats . . I’m not going to raise a protest or chain myself to a tree.

It means that if DDT keeps children in Africa from dying daily from malaria . . . I’m not going to protest its use unless there’s an equally dangerous threat to human life with using it.

I don’t know the solution for every problem in the world–or any.  But I know who does.  And I find that a whole lot more comforting than being popular.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2, NIV)

 

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