|Photo by Alex Ridgway|
I have one of those personalities that you either love or you hate. Impulsive. Bold. Sometimes aggressive. Stubborn. And on occasion, obnoxious.
I thrive on opposition. If I detect even the slightest hint of it I immediately dig my heals in and prepare for battle. Slow to speak, quick to listen are completely foreign concepts to my brain.
And none of that would be terribly bad, except that, I want people to like me.
When I write a post on here that I know is going to be controversial, my prayer isn't that everyone readily agrees with me or that they jump up and down and sing my praises. My prayer is that those who read and disagree will give me the benefit of the doubt.
That's something we just don't do in this society. We like to assume the worst. When I say something that could be taken one of two ways, the majority of people are going to assume the very worst.
Two month ago I wrote a controversial post about feminism. Looking back I'm really not even sure what my goal was for it. I know I wanted to make a few points about gender roles within Christianity, and I wanted to make people laugh in the process. Perhaps I achieved my goal with a few, but with a great many it was a bust. I got a lot of angry feedback, several people emailed me with some pretty hefty grievances. But the one that hurt the most was the simplest of all.
At some point during my internet fast someone left a comment (anonymously) that simply said: You are so lame.
My first reaction was to laugh, then shake it off. Like I had all the rest. But for some reason this one just wouldn't shake. It stuck with me. All day. All week. I kept going back to that one comment. That one, simple, anonymous comment.
I wanted to know who this person was. I wanted to talk with them about my post, and share a little bit of my heart with them. I wanted them to understand what I meant and what I didn't mean. I wanted to make it right.
I wanted them to like me.
That's a pretty basic thing, that I think all humans want. To fit in. To be liked. To have people enjoy being around you. To be loved and missed and wanted and needed.
To be liked.
Yet more often than not, I don't feel that. For whatever reason I have this need to always run against the crowd. I want to stand up when I'm told to sit down, I want to fight when I'm told to surrender, and yes, I want to vote Democrat when I'm told I should vote Republican. If the mere mention of painting my front door orange makes people's jaws drop, there's a pretty good chance I'll be at Lowe's within the hour buying orange paint.
Call me rebellious, call me obstinate, call me obnoxious. I won't deny that I am those things.
And yet, I want people to like me.
The thing is, there weren't many people that liked Jesus. Even the disciples had moments when they didn't want to be seen with him or identified as His. When Jesus would start in with the "eat of my flesh drink of my blood" rhetoric, you can almost see the disciples standing behind his back mouthing "I'm not with him" to the crowds.
The Pharisees certainly didn't like him. Nor did the people. They only liked what he could do for them. They liked the idea of him. But much like the pharisees and, on occasion, the disciples, the people thought Jesus took it too far.
He was a little too radical.
Oh how the eyes must have rolled as they thought, "Geez, must everything be about God? Does every little thing have to lead to a parable? Can't we just eat a meal without listening to a sermon?"
If you seriously stop and consider it, would fleshly, sinful people have liked Jesus?
I don't think so. And he certainly didn't think so. He knew that he was hated, and what's more, he knew that we would be too. He told the disciples in Mark 13:13 that we would be hated for the sake of His name. Now that goes much further than just annoying people. They won't just dislike us, they will hate us. According to John 15:20, they will persecute us. Worse than they did to Jesus, so they will do to us.
So, umm, yeah, people may not like me.
Because I have a burning desire in my heart to share the gospel with people. And sometimes my pursuit of opportunity makes me a little over zealous, and I jump in when the water is still frigid. So my methodology may need some work, and my timing could certainly improve, but my motive is right.
And there's really nothing that I can do about that, besides a complete abandonment of my pursuit of Christ.
Folks, it's time to take off the rose colored glasses. Actually, take them off, throw them on the ground, and stomp on those suckers. There is nothing rosy about this world, or the job we have to do here.
I want people to like me. There's nothing wrong with that. Where that would become a problem is if I begin to soften my convictions in order to make them like me.
See, maybe people didn't like Jesus, but that didn't make him any less effective. People were drawn to him. And I would argue that it was the things that made him unpopular that also made the people flock to him.
That he spoke truth. Unpopular, unconventional, irritating truth.
That he set the bar high. Stop sinning, and follow me. Now.
That he was fearless. In the face of adversity. In the face of scorn. In the face of death.
That he lived the life he called others to live. He didn't just preach it, he lived it.
His was a hard act to follow. And the things is, the people we tend to like the least, are the ones we most want to be like. Maybe it's jealousy, or our own sense of inadequacy, but we just can't stand for anyone to show us up.
And Friends, Jesus done showed you up.
I'm not saying go around being obnoxious so less people like you and you'll be more like Jesus. That's really not the way it works. What I'm saying is that being liked or accepted or even appreciated, shouldn't be our motivation. Our motivation should only ever be to follow Christ. With hearts surrendered. With the Spirit leading. And with hands and feet ready and willing to move.
So, I don't mind if I'm known as the crazy lady with the orange door. And I don't mind if I'm the PTA mom that never gets invited to margarita night. And I don't mind if people stop talking politics when I walk by.
As long as I'm known as the one who loves Jesus, I'll take whatever else you want to pin on me.