1 Peter 4:12-14 Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you…But rejoice… If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed…
Two years ago, as I was sitting in treatment for chemical dependency, I told God that I was sick of my destruction and that I would do anything to change. He promised that if I daily followed him and abandoned self that I would never have to go back to treatment. I am ashamed to write it, but I told God that I did not want to be seen as a Jesus freak or religious nut. Can you comprehend the audacity of me, sitting in treatment, telling God that I was worried about my reputation? I think God found it amusing too. When I objected to becoming a Jesus freak, God asked me if I liked being known as a drug addict. The choice suddenly seemed a little easier.
So, now, I do try to get carried away by my faith every day. I daily try to focus on God, keeping my eyes off the desires of my flesh. The fact that I fail so often reinforces my need to keep working at it daily. In my defect, I do sometimes still think that I would rather be seen as a successful doctor, father, husband, or anything, other than that guy who will not shut up about God.
I doubt that I am alone when I worry more about what people think of me than I do about what God thinks of me. Why do we do this? Why are we concerned more with our own popularity, image and appearance than we are with our faith? We say that God is the most important thing about us and we insist that we follow him but then we are ashamed to speak his name in public. We will sing his praises in the safety of a Sunday morning service but will not bring him up in conversations at work.
For me, this is just another seduction of my flesh nature. As much as I hate to admit it, I still derive a lot of affirmation from others. I still desire the praise of men and women and I continue to find value and worth from that affirmation. It is as if I allow my value to be determined by what others think of me. I would rather be seen as cool than as a Jesus freak. I am starting to realize that my need for affirmation from others distracts me from God more than I ever thought possible. I have to admit that my need for the praise of people is a profoundly destructive defect as it distracts me from following Christ.
Peter, in today’s passage, comes along and says that if we are doing faith right, at some point, we are going to get some heat for following Christ. I am going to be seen as a Jesus freak if I insist on talking about what He has done for me. Peter says that I should not be surprised at this. I should embrace it. I should be more focused on God’s opinion than I am on man’s opinion. If man mocks me for following God, then I should be ecstatic that God is pleased with me.
So, I will daily continue to work on abandoning my need for worldly affirmation and I will be happy when the world sees me as a freak for Christ. I will keep my eyes on God and I will find my meaning and value only in him.