There’s that pesky parable about soils that haunts me sometimes. Look at Jesus’ explanation:
“The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest. Luke 8:11-15
I’ve seen a good many people represent the 75% of folks who hear the gospel but fall away. They listen to the Enemy’s voice. They are tempted to give up. They busy themselves in the cares of the world. And I also believe they throw in the spiritual towel when persecution comes.
Truth: It will cost you your reputation if you follow hard after Jesus. It will. People will mock you. They will think you’re uncool. They’ll gossip about you. They will try to convince others you’re delusional or crazy. They might even oppose you to your face, telling you you’re weak for following “religion.”
Which is why I loved this verse when I stumbled upon it this week:
“We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us.” 2 Cor. 6:8a NLT
No matter what happens, no matter what people say, we make a choice to serve our amazing God. It’s a choice. A deliberate action we make day after day to follow Him no matter what.
You may not think you have enemies right now, messing with your reputation. But did you realize that the verse also says, “whether people HONOR us…whether they PRAISE us”?
Unfortunately, I have also seen people become so enamored with their praise and honor that they cease following Jesus, forsaking His renown for the worship of their own egos. It’s not pretty. But it’s real. And we are all susceptible. We love to substitute human praise like an addictive drug for the true, deep filling of Jesus.
Fame is fleeting. It steals your soul. And it’s cunningly addictive. Just as it’s hard to resist an adversary of the faith, it’s excruciating to resist the allure of your own glory.
I love what Michael Card writes in Scribbling in the Sand: “Never cease praying that you will not become a star or celebrity. Donald Davidson has said, ‘Our culture places an absolute premium on various kinds of stardom. This degrades and impoverishes ordinary life, ordinary work, ordinary experience.’”
Lord Jesus, help us all. Help us to be good soil, receptive to Your word. When folks oppose us, help us to run to You. When folks praise us, help us reflect the glory back to You. You are the famous one. We love You and honor You. Amen.