Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Life Is Not a Popularity Contest

God created me to serve and love Him and to serve and love my neighbors, not to be popular. While it's true that sometimes people are well-liked for being kind and truthful, sometimes they aren't. Jesus' own popularity took wild swings. When he was healing sick people, he was beloved by many, but when he was preaching repentance and exposing hypocrisy, he was targeted and ridiculed. Eventually, of course, Jesus was crucified by the very people he loved and served. Still, this unpopularity did not mean that Jesus' mission was a failure. He did exactly what God meant for him to do, and the people's displeasure with some aspects of Jesus' ministry does not mean that he was ineffective. Sometimes, like Jesus, I have to be willing to risk unpopularity in order to live as a true servant of God.

Of course, this doesn't mean that we aren't doing our work correctly if we're well-liked. Treating others with love and respect generally means that at least some people will have a passing fondness for us. Ultimately, our Christian lives will win us both fans and critics. Some people will love us for our kindness and others will dislike us for our bold declaration of uncomfortable truths. Neither that love nor that dislike should fuel our actions, however. We must be willing to live our lives independently of what our neighbors think. We should not be generous only to be respected nor should we start quarrels just to prove to God that we put His opinion before our neighbor's. There is nothing for a Christian to gain by being either popular or despised. The only thing that matters is serving God with faithfulness and reaching out to others in love.

In fact, many aspects of our popularity (or lack thereof) have little or no bearing on our core mission of serving God and loving others. When we focus on our true lives as children of God, the social issues that sometimes seem terribly important become inconsequential. Sometimes I worry that people find me unattractive of unimpressive, but does that really inhibit my ability to show them kindness? I get frustrated when people I love don't prioritize me in their lives, but God will love me whether anyone else does or not. I feel hurt when some people don't like or respect me enough to benefit from the gifts I have to offer, but I know that there are plenty of people who will accept the blessings I share. I don't need to be well-liked or even appreciated by other people in order to do the good works God has given me to do. I have God's love to fuel my efforts, and that is sufficient regardless of how anyone else feels about me.

It's a good thing that I'm not a Christian because I want to be popular, because living a Christian life probably isn't going to affect my popularity much either way. Some people will react positively to my Christian values, and some people will be turned off by them. Some people won't care one way or the other about me or what I do. I'm not choosing a Christian life because I care what others think. I endeavor to make my choices based on what God thinks. At the end of my life, I will be face to face with God and it won't matter anymore how many people thought I was smart, beautiful, and talented any more than it will matter who judged me fat, lackluster, or naive. Only God's opinion—His judgment and especially His love—will make a difference on my personal Day of Reckoning. There won't be an audience vote when that day comes, so I don't really need to worry about my popularity one way or the other.


Anonymous said...

I could relate with your blog...thanks for your wisdom

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for writing this. We should focus on God's mission for us and not dwindle to our own desires. Amen.

Anonymous said...

Well said. Thank you for your honesty and wisdom. Paragraph 3 really spoke to me.

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