The great English preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, “The present age is so flippant that if a man loves the Savior, he is a fanatic, and if he hates the powers of evil, he is a bigot.” That quote would have emerged from his lips in the mid 1800’s, referencing an opinion that society held, even then, regarding true followers of Christ…”fanatical bigots.” It was a prevailing thought in the 1800’s, and it continues to be a prevailing thought to this very day.
Spurgeon’s quote is reflective of several promises in Scripture, and I’m not referring to “feel good” promises; I’m referring to the promise of some harsh criticism and ill-intent towards those who outwardly live a life that seeks to glorify God.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” – John 15:18-20 (ESV)
What does 2020 hold for you and your relationship with a sinful world? Let me encourage you to hope and pray that your walk with God is so strong that the new year will hold some harsh criticism (and even hatred) of you by a world that sees you making a difference for Christ.
Now, that doesn’t sound right, does it? Why would we hope for criticism, hatred, or even persecution? Here’s why: It’s proof that our life is showing the outward signs of the Lordship of Christ, and therefore, it’s boldly challenging the normalization of evil in our world. There will always be evil in this life, and thus, our own lives should always stand in stark contrast to that evil. So, until the Lord returns, if we are living for Christ, we can expect some problems. Frankly, instead of fearing those problems, we should revel in them.
Instead of praying that this new year holds only calm waters, agreeable peers, and great personal prosperity, would it be so odd for a serious child of God to pray that their life is at least a tad disruptive to Satan’s agenda, disruptive enough to possibly see some consequences from the opposition? Remember, if we’re not receiving opposition from the world regarding our faith, it’s probably because our faith isn’t making a difference in the world.
Do we long for that type of walk with God? Do we have the faith to pray for God to use us even if it means we will have to stand against a world full of angry people (many who identify as Christians) coming against us? I guarantee you that very few people who read this will start praying for a walk with God that produces friction, criticism, or problems of any kind, but very few people will choose to live a life that brings any challenge to the comforts of Satan’s agenda in this present age.
Let 2020 be a great year of building your walk with God, increasing your faith, and living a life that is constantly disruptive to Satan’s plans. Let people say what they will. We’re not present on this earth to please people. Expect some criticism, and walk through it empowered by a much greater vision…a vision of pleasing God by living a life in stark contrast to the world. Trust me, if you truly intend on following God, you will not please the world. Honestly, you won’t even please many of those at your church. They may think you to be crazy, fanatical, or even bigoted. In the context of this post, love the Savior, hate evil, and be the fanatical bigot!
I wish you a wonderful New Year! I hope it’s a year of happiness, health, wonderful relationships, growth in Christ, and immense disruption of Satan. If it is, expect some problems. Greet them with a smile, because your God is greater than the war that rages against Him! Live 2020 in victory, my friends!
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!