I spend a lot of my life worrying what other people think about me. Am I being nice enough? Funny enough? Am I acting in a way that is ‘sufficiently cool’? Questions like this pop into my head on a daily basis. Currently, I’m concerned about the number of people who might “strongly disagree” with this article.
But I don’t think I’m the only one. We’re a generation of people pleasers; chameleons who change aspects of our personality to be part of the groups we find ourselves in. We say we don’t mind (when we really do) and we’re happy to go with the flow (even when it’s way outside of our comfort zone). Being a Christian just makes everything more complicated…
Christianity has many faces in our society. We’re the nice guys and the pushovers; the fun spoilers and party poopers. We’ve got an identity crisis because we’re constantly trying to persuade all of our friends that Christians are outrageously generous, just like the Bible says, but also in touch with things that are stylish. Put simply, we want to assure our non-Christian peers that WE ARE NORMAL. We want our faith to look as attractive as possible to the world around us.
When I was little we used to sing a song at Church called “Be Bold, Be Strong”. It reminded us not to be afraid (or dismayed) because God was always with us. How strange that it was so easy to accept those words as a child, and how difficult they are to believe as an adult. The novelty wears off when you get older; when life, debates and arguments happen and it’s difficult. We often struggle to be bold and strong as we live our lives. It’s so much easier to be non-controversial; it’s more straightforward just to fit in.
Our society fools us into thinking that we want to be as happy, rich or successful as possible. And often we buy into these things before we buy into the Bible. We follow the crowd because it’s easy, simple and it might make our beliefs seem more appealing. But to be a Christian is a statement that is bold and strong; there’s no getting away from it. It is controversial and it will always make some of our friends, family and work colleagues angry or upset. It’s a risk we have to take; it’s difficult to live this way.
The Bible tells us not to conform, to be prepared for persecution and to take the narrow road – not exactly what we’re dreaming of or the lifestyle we’re hoping for. Christianity doesn’t exist to boost our egos, Facebook friends or followers on Twitter. So often we do so much to please other people that we forget who we really are. But we’re not supposed to sit comfortably or go along with the crowd; we’re supposed to be radically transforming the world with our actions and words.
Perhaps it’s time to remind ourselves to put God’s way before our own appearance; to stand out, live differently, and see what happens.