How much do I crave the acceptance of others?
I'm reading Hard to Believe by John MacArthur about the watering down of the Gospel and what Christ actually said about Himself and His message. MacArthur at worst always challenges me and at best cause me to think long and hard about my life and my faith and how I live it.
As I read through the first chapter, what I as confronted with was two items: 1) The message of Christ calls for self-denial, not self fulfillment; and 2) The message of Christ is, by its very nature, offensive, and that if we preach the gospel we too will, at some level, will be offensive.
The part that I'm dwelling on is the second, the offensiveness of the Gospel and whether we try to maintain our "good" standing with others or preach it.
Offensive? The gospel of Christ is offensive if you think about to the unregenerate mind: You are a sinner and you are unable to save yourself. Salvation is available, but it means confessing that you are a sinner and have no ability to save yourself by anything you can do, only by believing that Christ came to suffer and die in your place. It's offensive because:
1) It means that we are not independent entities unto ourselves. We have a Creator and we are not the focal point of the universe.
2) It means that we are sinners. There is nothing we can do - no good we can do - that will ultimately save us.
3) It means that if we are to be saved, we need to humble ourselves, submit ourselves, and deny ourselves.
4) It means that our lives are no long interpreted by what we believe is right and wrong or what society believes is right and wrong but what God believes is right and wrong.
Note that this does not presume any attacks, any particular sins or religion, anything other than the simple message of the Gospel. Beginning to see why it would be offensive?
The question comes in how as a Christian I live it out. Do I really seek to follow Christ - to follow the Great Commission - or do I allow things to slide by because I want people to like me? Is avoiding controversy a byword for fear of speaking lest I offend?
Of course the Gospel is presented offensively - that's not what I dealing with here. What I am dealing with is the fine line between being true to what Christ said and valuing the approval of others more than what God has called me to.
Would that I loved God more - or at least denied myself more - to be true to Him.