Thank God or God D*!# It?
Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed . . . Mark 8:38
When I was a kid, my dad and I knew a particularly foul-mouthed man (who has long-since passed away) who was accustomed to using profanity in every sentence. I remember how God Damn It made my father – a pastor – cringe. In one of his best and most transparent moments from the pulpit, I heard my father explain how it shamed him to witness this other man be so profane with God’s name – without caring what anyone else thought – while he (my father) wasn’t bold enough to loudly praise or thank God in the same circumstances.
Looking back, I appreciate my dad’s honesty because I get it. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my faith. I just don’t want to be weird about it. I don’t want to be seen as a religious nut or a Jesus freak. Unfortunately, I often find myself more preoccupied with public opinion than I am with doing what’s right.
In today’s passage, Jesus had just told his disciples that if they truly wanted to follow him, they must walk away from the old life, boldly embracing the new one. This would put them at odds with the world and the world would ridicule them for it. Anyone who was ashamed of Christ could not boldly follow him and thus, wouldn’t find the new life. The new life and doing what’s right isn’t about popularity and in fact, can often be very unpopular.
We don’t face a lot of persecution for our faith in our country. Still, we are often over-invested in the opinion of our peers. I’d share my faith, but I don’t want to be weird or make anyone uncomfortable. When we allow our words and actions to be dictated by our need for affirmation from others though, we abandon our faith.
If we truly believe, then we must do what’s right, whether it’s popular or not. We must daily, choose to abandon our need for affirmation from those around us. It’s not that we stop caring about other people, and it’s not that we need to start yelling, PRAISE THE LORD every five minutes. It’s just that we must choose to be more concerned with doing what’s right than we are with public opinion.