Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Preferring the Praise of Men?

Over the past year, I've advocated for what Langer and Muehlhoff call "winsome conviction" -- standing firm for one's beliefs, but in a less combative manner that seeks to actually engage others in dialogue rather than "score points" on the opposition and shut down the conversation with a "slam dunk."

While I'm not sure anyone directly accused me of wanting to be "liked by the world," I did see that accusation leveled at many Christians who were trying to tone down the rhetoric and move things back to a more civil level of discourse.

One verse of Scripture that seems to get used in such accusations is John 12:43.

"For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." (KJV)

"for they loved human praise more than praise from God." (NIV)

But if we go back and look at the context of this verse, we will see that it is talking about people among the Jewish leaders who believed in Jesus, but were afraid to acknowledge their faith openly for fear of what the Pharisees might do to them.

It wasn't a desire to be liked by the secular Roman ruling elites that caused them to stay silent; rather, it was because they were afraid of being "put out of the synagogue" -- of losing their place in religious society, of suffering the wrath of certain religious people.

So my question to you (and to myself) is: Do we allow fear of what certain factions within Christianity will say about us, or try to do to us, to keep us from standing up and speaking out concerning things the Scriptures clearly speak about? Am I willing to stand up to "religious bullies" as strongly as I say I am willing to stand against the world and its fallen systems? 

Or do I only speak out against things I know everyone in my tribe is already against ("preaching to the choir"), while avoiding focusing the magnifying glass of God's Word on myself and those closest to me in worldview and belief?

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