You should know that if your goal is to keep people happy, you’re in trouble!
I’m pretty confident that I can promise you that you won’t succeed. But, of course, it really shouldn’t be your goal at all.
Now don’t get me wrong. Sure, we must be kind and gracious. Sure, we must be gentle and loving. Sure, we must avoid being unnecessarily obnoxious and difficult.
The dilemma arises when people we love are involved in behavior that is destructive… behavior that God calls sin. Or when people try to get us involved in things that we believe would not be pleasing to God.
Unfortunately (for those whose goal is to keep people happy), there are many times when a believer must choose between doing or saying what will keep people happy and doing or saying what may keep them (or us) from harm. In other words, it is very common to have to choose between trying to please people and trying to please God.
The Christians who, throughout the history of the church, were beheaded, drawn and quartered, clubbed to death, skinned alive, boiled in oil, stoned, stabbed to death, shot, starved, burned at the stake, etc. were probably not preaching the same message preached by preachers like Joel Osteen!
Repentance has never been a popular message… Well, wait a second… let me qualify that.
There are preachers who learn how to preach about repentance in such a way that people say, “Wow, that was good preaching!” But there’s no real repentance. And no one really seems to care whether others really repent or not. Those who need to repent are not experiencing any serious personal confrontation or dealing with genuine accountability. In those cases, preaching repentance becomes part of a “good show.”
If a church truly believes in repentance (as opposed to merely talking about repentance), that church will be exercising loving church discipline in order to attempt to restore members who are blowing it. If a church is afraid to follow Biblical patterns for church discipline lest they offend someone, it simply proves that they are not really that serious about sin. (Church disipline posts start here.) It is a great problem in the American church of today and largely explains the impotence of much of the church.
When people are really urged to truly repent, one of the common reactions (if they don’t repent) is to try to silence the messenger… especially if he is difficult to ignore. Get rid of him. Malign him. Ridicule him. And, in some places and times, kill him.
Yet, when Jesus began His preaching ministry, what did He preach? Repent!
And when Peter preached on Pentecost, what did he preach? Repent!
And when Paul was told that a church member would not quit sinning, what did he say? Remove him from the church!
(By the way, all three of those guys were eventually killed for what they were proclaiming! They didn’t keep everybody happy.)
Sin destroys. Sin is deadly serious. God is very serious about it. Crucifixion is very serious business.
Are you a genuine Christian? Many church members are not. But if you are, you will have a passion to stand with Christ. You will certainly care about sin. And, if you are serious, you can expect your stand to really bother some people.
You can be winsome. You can be gracious. You can be loving and caring and compassionate. But if you stand with Jesus against sin, you will probably be called a hypocrite, holier-than-thou, goody-two-shoes, and worse. You will be an irritant.
But God uses humble, gracious, loving irritants to stir conviction in the hearts of people.
And if we are faithful, humble, gracious, loving irritants, not only will we sometimes face ridicule, but sometimes we get to experience the great joy of seeing others repent and surrender to the Lordship of Christ.
And we must not lose our perspective!… We must never forget how fleeting this brief life really is!… Eternity is just the blink of an eye away!
A little rejection in this life? Big deal! What’s that? Nothing in light of eternity!
Stay in the battle!