Living Before An Audience of One
A Rude Awakening!
We all want to be loved, admired and respected. And when there is a person or group of persons who don't like us for no apparent reason other than the fact that we exist, it can make us question ourselves. We may ask: "What is wrong with me? What is it about me that these people don't like? Is there anything that I need to change to make me more appealing?" Although all of us can improve in many areas, most likely the answer to that final question is "No!" These people probably won't even notice if you change anything about yourself. They have made up their minds about you and they are, with few exceptions, unwilling to ever alter their opinion. First impressions, for most people, are extremely difficult to overcome. And the truth is, that's O.K. They don't have to like you, and you don't have to care!
I can remember the first time that I encountered the idea that not everyone in this world liked me. I always thought that if you treated others with love, respect and dignity, that they would reciprocate. But I found out that this isn't always the case. In fact some people will go out of their way to keep you from making friends with them. Your kind intentions will be met with cold, silent stares at best,. And at worst they will be returned with anger and harsh words, or in some cases, physical aggression. It is at times like this that I feel like telling them something I heard recently: "It is all right if you don't like me because not everyone has good taste." But then I think better of it because it would only make matters worse.
I. Some Hated Jesus
The interesting thing is that we expect to be loved by everyone, when the most perfect person who ever lived was hated by some. Jesus was despised by many Jewish leaders. The Pharisees couldn't stand Him because He confronted them on their hypocritical lives. ( Luke 11:37-54 and Matthew 23:1-39), And it was the Lord Himself who said that those who are in the world would hate Him, and we, as His servants, as well. He said:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father.But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason' (John 15:18-25).
The fact is, that if Jesus worked at pleasing everyone He would not be able to fulfill the will of His Father. It is God the Father whom He served and to whom He looked for His approval because the Father sent Him (John 5:19, 30; John 6:38). Jesus lived before an audience of One, and so should we.
II. Don't Give Reason to Hate
The Apostle Paul, in his final letter to his son in the faith Timothy, said to him that they who live godly lives in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (II Timothy 3:12). The world doesn't want to be convicted of their sin and a Christian living an upright, god-honoring life points out their sinfulness like a black spot on a completely white sheet of paper. And they hate you for it.
But, on the other hand, what saddens me the most is when I see a person who professes to be a Christian and yet does something that brings shame on the name of Christ, thus giving the world a reason to look down on all Christians. It should be every believer's ambition to have people look at our good deeds and glorify our Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16). Further, if we are to be persecuted for our lives it should never be for doing evil. The Apostle Peter puts it this way:
"If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God" (I Peter 4:14-16).
The bottom line is that at the end of our life it won't matter what this or that person or group thought of us. Therefore, we should not be people-pleasers. For one thing, if we worry about what others think of us, we'd be surprised at how little they even do. Most are thinking of themselves and couldn't care less about anyone else.
The person that we should be pleasing is God. He is our creator and sustainer. It is He who is the lover of our soul and the One to whom we will all some day give an account. For the person who doesn't accept Christ's sacrifice on the cross, He is the judge who will send you to an eternity apart from Him (Revelation 20:11-15). To the believer he is the judge who rewards faithful service for Him at the Judgement Seat of Christ (II Corinthians 5:10; I Corinthian 3:12,13).
Rather than try to have the world applaud us, let us forget about the world and think daily of the time when we will stand before our Savior and Lord. And may we make it our ambition, to live before an audience of One and have Him say to us in the end: "Well done thou good and faithful servant!!" For He is the only person who really counts.
A Good Song
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© 2017 Jeff Shirley