Galatians 1:10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Paul was never one to mince words, and here he explains why. He was the very antithesis of politically correct! He wasn’t deliberately abrasive. Elsewhere he says, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22) However, he had no patience at all with anyone who was deliberately trying to twist the Gospel for their own purposes. Today many churches are run as democracies, which tends to turn the pastors into politicians. We need more politicians who are like Paul, doing what is right instead of just what will get them reelected! Even in non-democratic church structures, often more attention is given to tradition than to what God has said clearly in His Word, when Jesus explicitly condemned such behavior. (Mark 7:8) Every believer, and not just pastors, needs to seek to please God first and foremost, rather than worrying first about people. We have an extremely current good example to follow. It has been in the news that Pastor Andrew Brunson was released this month from prison in Turkey, but I don’t think most news sources have focused on why he was imprisoned in the first place. The charge was terrorism, and he was convicted. The sentence was greatly reduced because of US pressure, but by Islamic logic, the charge was actually accurate. The court documents used the word, “Christianization.” In other words, pastor Brunson was being dedicated and effective in evangelism. In an Islamic country, that can’t be allowed because it will destroy the nation as it is today. That’s precisely why the Roman Empire persecuted Christians: they wouldn’t accept Caesar as the ultimate authority. When we insist that Jesus is Lord, and mean it, we are placing Him above any and all government, not to mention everything else. Everything is subservient to Him. No totalitarian regime is going to want to put up with that! People in genuine democracies don’t have the same pressure, but we still tend to let all sorts of other things control our lives, rather than Christ.
Many years ago a “thought question” was making the rounds. “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” I’ve thought about that off and on in the perhaps 40 years since, because it’s a valid question. If you took away cultural trappings, for many people the answer would be no. I don’t want that to be true of me! Pastor Brunson’s case has really brought this back into focus. There was very severe persecution of Christians in Japan over a period of over 300 years, and that’s where I minister now. That persecution started for largely political reasons, because the Edo government reasonably feared that Christians would be loyal to other than the nation of Japan. That’s very much like the situation in Islamic nations today. Before and during WWII Christians were extremely suspect for precisely that reason. Today, the major “religion” is secularism, but even so, someone who lives with Jesus as Lord is definitely “out of sync” with the rest of society. My challenge is that I am trying to generate more and more “out of sync” people! I am never to give up, but seek to be sure that Jesus is my Lord, in every area of my life, for His glory.
Father, this is going to be a pretty severe message. I pray that You would enable me to speak it in Your love, so that all who hear it would be set free from the lies of the enemy, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!