Friday, January 27, 2012

Am I popular yet?

10-12Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or curry favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn't bother being Christ's slave. Know this—I am most emphatic here, friends—this great Message I delivered to you is not mere human optimism. I didn't receive it through the traditions, and I wasn't taught it in some school. I got it straight from God, received the Message directly from Jesus Christ.
(Galations 1:10-12 The Message)

I imagine we have all struggled with the idea of being "popular" - being part of the "in" crowd.  In school, we'd look at certain groups of girls or boys, see how they dressed, looked at the way they did their hair, listened to what the talked about, and then what did we try to do?  For some of us, we tried to "fit in"!  If we have a tendency to be "followers" by nature, we want to "bend" to the whim of the crowd we are with.  If we are "leaders", we expect everyone else to fall in line behind us!

I was a follower - - getting caught up in the whims of the crowd.  Now, don't go bonkers when you hear this, but I did some pretty "not so nice" things!  I engaged in some mischief for which I have long repented and asked God's forgiveness.  I also got into my fair share of trouble - spending quite a bit of time "explaining" my behaviors to my parents and others!  Needless to say, Christ changed a lot for me!  

Our passage considers the goal of being "popular".  The "favor" a particular group might show you is sometimes not always what it is cracked up to be.  In fact, the very direction the group may be headed will only place you in a position of "unpopularity" with many others!  Paul is quite open - he is not a Christian because it makes him "popular".  Can you agree with this statement?  In most cases, being a Christian these days is not the most popular stand we can take.  

Knowing me by now, you know I had to look up the word "popular" in my trusty dictionary.  Here's what I found:

- Something or someone declared to be "popular" is really an object or individual who represents the "masses".  In today's society, Christianity is proclaimed, but it is not consistently "lived".  We cannot say Christian virtues are the popular (prevailing) virtues.  In fact, the trend is the tolerance of all virtues - regardless of the religion.

- Something which can be "adapted" to fit the ordinary intelligence or taste of an individual.  Regardless of how we might feel about this, God's Word is NOT something we can "adapt" to fit our circumstances.  It is meant to be interpreted by certain principled methods and cannot be "twisted" to "fit" our particular stance.  Whenever we do this, we are attempting to make the Word of God "popular" - to bend it to the "trend" of society rather than allowing it to affect the "bend" of society!

- Something we would classify as inexpensive.  If you live in a "free" society, Bible bookstores and online retailers of the Word may abound.  If you live in a society where freedom of religion is not a "right", your impression of the "value" of the Word may differ!  In truth, nothing about the Word of God is "inexpensive" - there is / was a tremendous "cost" in fulfilling each and every promise contained within those pages - - his name is CHRIST.

So, we may not always want to be "popular" in our walk.  Why would we want to be considered "ordinary" when God declares us to be "extraordinary"?  We might not always want to "adapt" things to fit our intentions or plans - - when life is all about us, we miss the enjoyment and fulfillment of including those uniquely designed to provide some blessing in our life.  We may not realize the "cost" of what we have been given, but hang around long enough and it will eventually become apparent!  Nope!  We are not in this for the "popularity" it produces!  Be willing to be "unpopular" to the masses - God has declared you so already!