_ “Whether they like it or not” – usually when someone says that – usually when I have said that – it is a statement of proud defiance. I want to redeem that statement as a statement of humble resolve – resolve in staking claims and taking stands on issues humbly viewed from God’s perspective, as He grants His will, gives His wisdom, and guarantees our well-being in everything (2 Peter 1:3; James 1:5-8; Romans 8:28-39).
It’s a dangerous thing to want someone to “like” everything you put down on the page. We look for that, don’t we? I wonder how many like my post.
We all in some way respond to the allurement of approval. To some degree, we all make decisions based on whether someone is going to like it or not (what we are going to say, how we are going to say it, what picture/s we are going to post with it, what we can get someone to do for the video we want to shoot for it, etc.) That is okay for the molehills of a little lighthearted fun, but there are heavy-hearted issues, looming mountains in front of us and under us, which must be approached and addressed in ways not subject to anyone’s approval but God’s.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. Please do not confuse what I am saying about approval with the need for accountability. We are not islands unto ourselves, only dealing with our own shorelines and terrain. We are accountable to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. And in being accountable to one another, we do two things for one another: We help one another with spiritual integrity, and we help one another with natural infirmities. In other words, we help each other stay right in a world of wrong, and we help one another stay strong in working around our weaknesses.
Having said that, let’s get back to the issue of living for the “likes”. Whether we like it or not, the fact of Christian life is that a lot of people are not going to like a lot of what we must say and do. Being faithful and being popular are not two options we can choose at the same time (well, unless we are popular among the faithful – that’s a good thing). Before he died, the Apostle Paul prepared his spiritual son, Timothy, for this reality:
10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 3:10–4:5)
What every preacher is called to do is simply an expanded example of what every Christian is called to do: speak up in love and tell the truth about the issues we face – whether they like it or not – including our “friends”.
That “like” button – it’s a great tool for networking, sharing, and encouraging – but it’s also a dangerous stumbling stone if we let our appetite for approval get too strong. Not just on Facebook, but in life, let’s use the “like” button wisely and watch carefully how much we like others to click it for us. Yes, go ahead and click it for me after you read this – if you’re among the faithful and you like that I am striving to be also.