Today I started taking down my Christmas decorations (well, besides the live Christmas tree: we took it down already); usually, a two day process. I have a difficult time taking my Christmas decorations down. It’s a sad thing to me. I really don’t enjoy it. I have a lot of Christmas decorations and putting them up takes about three or four days on average. This year, with my health problems, it took longer. We didn’t get everything done that I wanted done this year until Christmas Eve. Now I am taking it all down.
All the decorated garlands, the ceramics I made over the years, the wooden decorations I made years ago, the table decorations, the Santa decorations, the ribbon of vintage to antique ornaments I hang down the hall and back annually: all coming down. It is the saddest day of the year for me.
As I started the process today, for whatever reason, I started remembering the times in my life when people have asked me to put my Christianity away. Those aren’t the words they have actually said, but it’s the same thing.
While I had my own desktop publishing business, I had a client who wanted me to produce and print his resume and to put info into it that was a lie. I refused to do so. He kept trying to cajole me into lying for him, but I refused and resigned. He was shocked, flabbergasted even. He couldn’t believe that I refused to lie for him. He even went so far as to say, "Huh. And you're a Christian." He thought – for whatever reason, after whatever contact he had with other Christians he knew – that I would cave. He thought that because I was a Christian I had to be compliant. I had to be nice and do whatever he wanted me to do because Christians are that way. They’re sweet and goody-two-shoes. They do as anyone wishes. They’re pushovers and they don’t argue with anyone. If someone demands something, that’s what the Christian shall do because God tells them to be nice. They're candy-coated Christians and will melt at the touch of anyone's hand.
The multiple attempts of a local Brit to get me to sit down, shut up and let her do as she wished without opposition because she was attacking my Christianity and Christians are not supposed to put up opposition to anything is another example. Christians are not supposed to state the facts, even though they can be verified and links are given to them. Christians are not supposed to worry about -- or be involved in -- politics. Christians are supposed to stay out of politics because they’re supposed to “render unto Caesar” and all of that. Christianity is not Caesar’s: and politics, well, that’s not God’s (or that’s what they think). So we are supposed to keep out of politics and make that a “no go zone” because it’s not within our purview. When the Brit writes, she writes to attack my Christianity. She tries to make me “stand down” by implying that because I am involved in politics and I am a strong opponent, unafraid to call her on anything she says, I must not be a Christian. Christians are supposed to be compliant and wimpy. I’m too mean to be a Christian.
The latest person to think that “Christian” equals “cave in” and “compliant” was a teenage boy who came around door to door to sell me some magazines I did not need, and even though I have a “No Soliciting” sign on my screen porch door. I talked to him and his female companion for a while, got them something cold to drink (it was a warmer November day) and then said “No” to their sales pitch. I didn’t want to buy any magazines for over-inflated prices, didn’t want to help them get money to start their own business (I need money for my family’s futures, not their future). I wanted them to understand what “No Soliciting” means and if they didn’t (public schooled, I’m sure), then they were going to spend some time here and not get a dime. When I told him “No” he asked how he was supposed to get money for his business. I said, “Work harder”. As they left, he said, “I thought you said you were a Christian.”
So, according to the people I have encountered in my life –- and apparently the Christians they had previously encountered in their lives -- Christians are supposed to be willing to let lies stand; even help a liar. Christians are supposed to be willing to let politician-want-to-bes say and do whatever they want to say and do, but not stand against it. Christians are supposed to be pushovers, spending whatever it takes to help anyone who comes to the door for whatever purpose. Christians are supposed to be sickly sweet and stand for nothing, fall for anything and be willing to do whatever it takes to make people love them. We have no moral code, no commandments from God, no delineation of right and wrong that we live by, according to what these people have apparently seen of other Christians.
I don’t know about those other Christians, those who roll over and want to be liked and will do whatever it takes for someone to have a good opinion of them; let a lie stand, stay out of politics in order to be liked, be unwise with the money God has given us. I only know about myself. I shall never want to be liked by people more than I shall want to be liked by God. That’s what the Christians who roll over are doing; wanting to be liked by humans more than they want to be liked by God. It’s the old “No man can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24) thing. Christians who wish to be liked by people more than liked by God are trying to serve two masters: God and man. It’s not going to work (read all of Matthew 6:24), because people will not like you after they use you, chew you up and spit you out. God loves you all the time, even when you disobey Him.
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” the Bible states in Joshua 24:15 and that is what I do, I shall do, and what I will never cease doing. When I read the Bible, I see Christ as a strong man, both in spirit and in obedience. Since Jesus Christ is our model of what we should be like, I see no problem in being like Him. (How strong was He to go to the cross although He was sweating drops of blood while asking if He could avoid it, "Yet not my will but thine."? [Luke 22:42]) Standing strong and standing my ground is what I am supposed to do. I am supposed to be “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13) and if I lose my flavor, how shall the earth have any flavor? That’s the thing. How is it supposed to help the earth – the people of the earth – if Christians roll over and cave in just to be “liked” by people? What good will it be to anyone – other people, other Christians, the whole earth – if Christians stop acting like the Christians God intends us to be?
Answer: It won’t do anyone any good. It also won’t please God.
Any time a Christian decides to roll over, to play “Christianity dead” in order to be liked by others, you do God a disservice. You displease Him and you make Him ashamed of you. God expects you to stand tall for Him, to be strong, to focus on pleasing Him, not them. Yet, Christians all over the world roll over and do whatever it takes to be liked by people. Christians play at Christianity, talking the talk, but not walking the walk. They want to be liked, to be well thought of, to be considered “in”, part of “the gang”, one of “them.” It’s not that Christians intend to do so; they just like fitting in. They don’t want to be considered a hard-liner, hard-nosed, “more religious than thou” type. So they fit in. They work at being liked. They do what needs to be done in order to make people like them.
“Huh. And you’re a Christian” is what my ex-client said to me when I wouldn’t agree to allow him to lie to potential employers on the resume I was designing for him. To have people surprised by a Christian who takes a stand and won’t do the wrong thing that the non-Christian wishes to do tells you about the state of Christianity in the world today. A “one of” among Christians: someone telling the truth, taking a stand, not giving money away foolishly. The world apparently has so very little experience with that. Why?
When was the last time you, as a Christian, took a stand and didn’t give in – not to friends, relatives, coworkers, strangers – to their pressure, their requests, their whining? When was the last time you, as a Christian, made it a point to stand strong and not give in, not roll over? When was the last time you, as a Christian, didn’t kowtow to the demands of a non-Christian (or, yes, even a Christian) in order to be liked? If you did so, if you made it a point to do so, today, tomorrow, or this week sometime, would the world end? Would your friend, relative, coworker, the stranger on the street or at your door, hate you forever? What if they did? Would it hurt? What if it does? “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) means that you can handle the pain, the embarrassment, the shunning. You can handle it because He is with you, “The Lord is with me” (Psalm 118:6 & 7, etc.) and He will help you get through it. Besides, when God is pleased with you, who cares if people are unhappy with you? Don’t you think His pleasure is so much better, so much more, than having some person angry, disappointed, upset with you?
Christians need to be strong, adamant, belligerent even in order to please God, the One who has their eternity in hand. Pleasing people and not God – making God angry at you, ashamed of you – is so much easier here on earth, but it isn’t going to bode well for your future. God loves you more than those people who want to compromise your Christianity in order to please them and not have them angry at you. God’s love for you is endless, boundless, tireless, but that doesn’t mean that He cannot be disappointed in you. When you have taken the easy way out and you have made man happy, what does it do to your soul, your relationship with God, your self-respect?
Have you ever noticed that the word “compromise” is not in the Bible? The word doesn’t exist in the Bible because God does not compromise. God says it’s His way or damnation. Compromise is not to be made in order to have man’s pleasure. God’s Word is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6), and I think that the truth is what God wishes. God does not wish Christians to compromise on the truth. God does not want Christians to lose their way. God does not wish Christians to lose their life because they choose not to follow Him.
God loves all of us: everyone ever conceived (even those aborted), God loves. He wants all of us to follow Him, to love Him, to serve Him. The “salt” comes in when we show others that our “salt” flavor is a good flavor. We cannot share that flavor when it is gone because it’s more important to have them happy with our answer, our compromise, our kowtowing. We can no more witness Christ when we do those things than we can tell them about God having a set of rules for people to follow if we compromise on those rules to start with.
I have a family member who was a professing Christian raised by Christian parents in a small town. Upon graduation this family member moved out of her parents’ house and moved in with a male without being married to him. On that day, she lost her Christian witness within that town. Whether the relationship was completely platonic or not, her Christian witness was totally worthless in that town, amongst those who knew her, among those who knew of her. The assumption was that sexual relations were happening, whether they were happening or not. After that, she lived with at least two other guys without the benefit of wedlock (although she married the last one). Christians do not do that sort of thing. That’s not something God would condone. Therefore, her Christian witness was worth as much as a wooden half-penny and she could no longer tell someone that being a Christian meant turning away from sin and toward God. No one would believe her while she was in that town and everyone knew of her lifestyle.
That’s what happens when Christians compromise on what God tells us to do, to be, to say. We are not supposed to help someone lie (nor lie ourselves) to be accepted, kowtow in order to be liked, nor waste our money in order to please someone. We are supposed to be like Christ, all aspects of Christ (driving out the money-changers to telling his own disciples that they shall not be great in heaven unless they are least [Mark 10:41-45]), not just the “sweet” part of Him.
Yes, He did forgive sins, heal the sick, raise the dead and prevent a woman being stoned. However, as we all know, He was strong, determined, obedient, acted upon His convictions (as does His Father) and He never, ever compromised. As Christians, if we are truly following Him, we should be willing and able to do the same.
As for me, I shall never compromise. I shall never put my Christianity away from me: not to be liked by someone, to fit in, to make life easier for someone else. I refuse to put my Christianity into a box, put it away and hide it from others so that their lives will be a little more comfortable. I won’t allow them to make me change my standards and accept theirs when theirs are lower than my own. My standards are those God has convicted me to set and I refuse to lower them for anyone. For a client, politician-want-to-be, or kid trying to get money out of me to expect me to change my standards (my principles) to make their lives easier is like expecting to see Hitler in heaven. It’s not going to happen.
How about you? As a Christian are you willing to compromise with man in order to be liked by him, accepted, to please them, even if they are family, friend, or coworker? Or is Christ your standard and you live to please Him? When was the last time you put your Christianity away as you do your Christmas decorations? I sincerely hope the answer is, "Never!"