Like God, or Liked by Others?

Isaiah 43:8-13 ESV

Bring out the people who are blind, yet have eyes,
who are deaf, yet have ears!
All the nations gather together,
and the peoples assemble.
Who among them can declare this,
and show us the former things?
Let them bring their witnesses to prove them right,
and let them hear and say, It is true.
“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor shall there be any after me.
I, I am the Lord,
and besides me there is no savior.
I declared and saved and proclaimed,
when there was no strange god among you;
and you are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and I am God.
Also henceforth I am he;
there is none who can deliver from my hand;
I work, and who can turn it back?”

When did it become wrong to ask questions? When did it become shameful to question what we are being taught or told? When did our society, at least in part, including within the gatherings of the church, decide to no longer resist, but to just bow to other gods? Do you not know that submission to authorities is not to be blind obedience? It is not to be worship?

Look at Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were told they must bow down to and worship a golden statue or else be cast into a burning fiery furnace. They refused. They believed God would deliver them, but if he did not, still they would not serve the king’s gods or worship the golden image that the king had set up. And God did deliver them.

Then look at Daniel. An ordinance was established by the king that whoever makes a petition (prayer) to any god or man for thirty days, except to the king, shall be cast into a den of lions. Daniel knew of the ordinance and yet he continued just as he had always done to pray to God, and right out in the open. And he was thrown into the lions’ den, but God delivered him.

Peter and John were arrested and put in jail for teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. The next day they were commanded by the religious authorities to no longer speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied,

“Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Ac 4:19-20).

And then we have the teachings in the New Testament which tell us to not believe every spirit but to test the spirits to see if they are from God. We are to examine everything carefully. And we are to be on guard against those who put obstacles in our way which are contrary to the word of God.

We are to guard against being deceived and being led astray. We are to no longer be naïve, tossed about by every wind of doctrine by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in Christ to maturity in Christ as each part of the body does its work.

[1 Jn 4:1; 1 Thes 5:19-22; Rom 16:17-19; 2 Co 11:3; Eph 4:11-16]

The Blind and Deaf

So, again, when did we stop testing? When did we stop questioning and examining what we are being told and taught? When did we decide that it is better to make peace by just “towing the line” regardless of whether or not it makes sense? Who taught us that? It wasn’t God. It wasn’t Jesus. And it wasn’t the NT apostles or the prophets before them.

You want to know who the people are who are blind, yet have eyes, who are deaf, yet have ears? They are those who refuse to question, who refuse to resist the norms of society, who even ignore the teachings of Scripture in order to be accepted as “normal” in society and in order to be “liked” by others and not stand out as “different” or as a “rebel.”

And so they will give false teachings and false teachers a pass in order to not “make waves,” and in order to not be rejected. And you know what? If you ask questions, i.e., if you question the “official narrative” or what is being taught in “the church,” you are going to face rejection and persecution. You will be treated as an “outcast,” as someone who does not “fit in.”

For, this is what is being pushed in our world and in “the church” of today, at least here in America, but not just in America. If we don’t join in with the majority opinion, and if we don’t compromise our beliefs to “make peace,” then we are regarded as troublemakers and as disunifiers, and that is frowned upon. And so we are shunned because we dared to have a thought, a belief, or an opinion other than the “official” opinion or narrative.

But if we do join in, and we stop questioning and testing what we hear, and we decide to just accept whatever is being fed us in order to make peace and to not “make waves,” then we are worshiping other gods. We are bowing down to the “golden statue.” And we are ignoring God and his commands to us to test everything and to not compromise our faith.

Therefore, God is not our God, but we are preferring other gods over and above him. We are denying him before other humans in order to save our own reputations. We are choosing more to be liked by other humans than we are caring about the salvation of their souls. For we are more concerned about not being persecuted than we are caring about others being deceived.

So, the encouragement here is to “man up,” basically, and to be strong and courageous, and to speak the truth in love, and to question what does not sound right, to test everything, and to test the spirits to see if they are of God, and to test them against God’s word (in context). Even if you are rejected, question what is not right for the sake of others’ salvation.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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