A good friend of mine once said, “To follow Jesus is to be loved or hated, not to be broadly liked.” I think about that often. Particularly in these days and times when everyone has a platform and if you speak truth to power or people you will offend someone.
As I was reading the closing verses of Galatians the Apostle Paul wrote,
It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. (Galatians 6:12, ESV)
In our age I have to wonder what is our “circumcision” issue that draws us into making a “good showing in the flesh” so that we “may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ”?
I am coming to the conclusion that we experience this in how we engage with culture. There are many hot button topics that “trigger” folks and so we try and either avoid speaking about them or we try to be as palatable as possible. Cultural syncretism, I think, is our new circumcision.
This cultural syncretism cuts both ways between conservative culture and progressive culture. Typically we want to be broadly liked in one or the other. Yet, for the follower of Jesus we will often find ourselves cutting a new path, one that challenges both ends of the cultural spectrum.
What makes this so hard is that it really does place us in a position where we will be loved or hated. We will lose the capacity to be broadly liked. In an age of social media to be broadly liked is an unstated goal. When we speak gospel truth it will often lend itself to folks being made uncomfortable.
To be clear, we speak the truth in love. So offense ought not to be generated by our being rude, uncaring, or mean.
Our challenge is to follow Jesus into our culture without worry of making a good showing in the flesh to avoid persecution. No, we follow him in truth with the knowledge that we will be loved or hated and not broadly liked.