In the latest issue of World Mag. Andree Seu writes about our misguided need as Christians to be respected by the world. She chronicles some past notables and their struggles with wanting the world’s respect. She then reminds us about Jesus and His concern with gaining the world’s respect:
“Jesus went to all the wrong parties (Luke 15:2) and missed all the right funerals (Matthew 8:22). He ate when He was supposed to fast (Mark 2:18), came to dinner with unwashed hands (Mark 7:2-3), and once at the table gave His attention to all the wrong people (Luke 7:36-50). He let His men eat free-standing grain with abandon, in broad daylight on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1). He made a scene in the temple. His own mother was embarrassed (Mark 3:20-31).”
It is so often the case that we seek respect and affirmation from the wrong source. Everything Jesus did was pleasing to the Father (John 8:29). However, most, if not all of what He did was scorned by the world. The world will always love its own, but despise the things of God.
When we become Christ followers (and not mere casual believers) then we must make a choice: either we seek affirmation from the Father or from the world. If from the world, then we do not have the Father; if from the Father, then we will not have the world – but we will have the Father, Son and Holy Spirit! We can be respected by God or by the world, but we cannot have respect and acceptance from both at the same time. We must choose.
Jesus said it simply like this, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). To deny ourselves by taking up the cross means we choose to die both to ourselves and to the world. Only then can it be said that we are following Him.
Lord, save us from the need to please the world that we may have its respect! May we be unabashedly enthusiastic, energetic and open about the fact that we are followers of Christ! With Paul may we say, “I am not ashamed” (Romans 1:16).