With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you. 1 Peter 4:4
With my first couple of attempts at recovery, I was far more interested in my dignity, privacy, and reputation than my sobriety. So, I kept the struggle a secret, I wouldn’t talk about it, and I refused to go to local meetings. Overly concerned with what others thought, I had my priorities completely backwards. And . . . I didn’t stay sober very long. The last time I relapsed, it was an epic disaster that quickly became public knowledge. Then, just to make sure everyone knew, the story showed up in the local paper several months later.
Even as I began the journey of authentic recovery, I struggled with the maintaining my reputation. When I felt God telling me to daily abandon myself to follow him, I knew it wasn’t just about drugs. If I truly followed the path of faith, I was afraid others would see me as a religious nut. I told God as much. I quickly realized that, at that point, everyone saw me as an addict, and the choice became much easier. Eight years sober now, and I’m still learning that my popularity must take a backseat to my faith. Living right is far more important than social status.
Still, like most people, I want to be popular. I’d like faith and recovery to be trendy. Today’s passage reveals a universal truth that I must accept though. In it, Peter said that those living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry (verse 3) will never think I’m cool. Rather, they will mock me. They will call me a killjoy and a wet blanket. The world won’t thank me for pursuing recovery and faith. Others may in fact, ridicule me for the very things I hold most dear.
We may certainly make efforts to make our faith relevant to those around us. God’s word does have profoundly important application to real life struggles. We’re probably never going to make faith cool though. And that’s OK. Part of abandoning ourselves to follow God is to abandon our desire for status and popularity. For some of us, this is our preeminent struggle. For some of us, this is the thing that keeps us from the life for which God created us. I don’t want to be a Jesus freak. As Peter reminded us though, the life of faith will, by definition, be contrary to the world. It might be unpopular to swim upstream, but, if we want to know the life, joy, and peace for which we were created, that is exactly what we must do.