OK not to be liked

We’re living in a day and age where it’s deemed critically important to be liked by everyone. The mega social media platform, Facebook, is built around the whole concept of liking or disliking something or someone, with the intended goal of getting as many page and individual post likes as possible. There are hundreds of articles written on how to get more likes. Want to increase your likes? Easy, get out your credit card and we’ll make it happen.

With that said, who doesn’t like to be liked? No one that I know of. Worse than someone not choosing to like you on social media, is the dreaded unlike. That’s where someone intentionally dislikes you. With one quick click, you’re voted off the island against your will. Devastating!

Unfortunately, this whole “please like me” fad permeating today’s culture, has leaked over into the church. As a result, far too many pastors, church leaders, and Christians in general, are bending over backwards to be liked. But to be universally liked means that you must be constantly on your guard not to offend anyone, ever. And that, my friends, is a big, big problem.

Many people today have a very warped understanding of what the Bible actually says about heaven, hell, sin, marriage, sex, etc. Because when asked, too many Christians – afraid of offending or being unlikable – remove the rough edges of biblical truth.

Jesus never watered down the truth, because to do so compromises God’s Word and does a severe disservice to those who need to hear it. Jesus also new that Christianity was not a popularity contest. In fact, quite the opposite. “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” (Matt. 10:16). “Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13).

An ancient proverb states that you can judge a man’s character by who his enemies are. That’s also true in the spiritual realm. The world loves its own, but since Christ chose believers out of the world, the world hates them (John 15:19).

Remember, the world hated Jesus so much that it killed Him. We, as His followers, can also expect hostility. “If the world hates you,” Jesus said in John 15:18, “you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.”

Peter noted the reason for the world’s hostility to Christians when he wrote, “[Unbelievers] are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you.” (1 Peter 4:4).

How we live our lives as Christians should make unbelievers very uncomfortable in their sin, and remind them of coming judgment. But I don’t see much of that happening today. And, it’s not going to change until this generation gets over this silly “please like me” phase.

“without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved-and that by God.”  Philippians 1:28

For God’s Glory

As we approach this year’s Academy Awards let’s remember one of the great Oscar winners, Chariots of Fire. It’s a must see. The movie tells the story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams, an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture.

Whenever I tell young people about the thing Eric Liddell is most remembered for, refusing to run his race – the 100-meter dash – in the Olympics, because it was run on a Sunday, they invariably laugh and say something like, “Why would he do that, that’s just stupid!”

Eric refused to run the 100-metres race, his best event, because it was held on Sunday. He also declined to run in the 4 x 100 meter relays, races that he had qualified for, because their heats also where run on Sunday. Because he was such a popular athlete, the British Olympic Committee asked if he would train to run in the 400 meters. He went on to win the 400 meters and set a world record in the process. Think what you want about his decisions, but Eric Liddell was a man who stood on his principles, whether others thought them stupid or not. And he always came out on top.

In the movie, after the British Olympic authority’s unsuccessful attempt at changing Eric’s mind, one of the men comments, “The lad…is a true man of principle and a true athlete. His speed is a mere extension of his life – its force. We sought to sever his running from himself.” Though the writer labels God as a generic “force,” the statement is true. The Christian life cannot be lived apart from God. To do so is to compromise our very being.

For Eric, his running was simply an extension of his life, and his life was in Christ. Therefore, every time he ran a race, he did so for the glory of God. Eric Liddell proved that when you do everything in life for God’s glory, you can win without compromising. For that’s where the power of integrity begins.

Some of Eric’s Christian friends questioned why he continued to run races when clearly God was calling him to be a missionary. I absolutely love his response – it’s my favorite quote from the movie. Eric said, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

Living your life to the glory of God does not mean that you abandon doing what he has gifted you to do. No, it simply means that you perfect that talent for His glory, and not your own.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31