I was reading an article recently dealing with how Millennials view different religions. The information was given in a “likability” scale based on research done by the Pew Research Center. The research reflected the attitudes of different groups towards various religions to include atheism. I was a little surprised to find that Democrats liked atheists and Muslims more than they liked evangelicals and Mormons; however, I will save that for a more politically motivated post. At first, I was disappointed at what the information was revealing, especially about the attitude of younger adults. The article states “Millennials gave Muslims 58 percent likability, with atheists [at] 59 percent – the same as evangelicals and Mainline Protestants, who were also rated at 59 percent,” he added. “What is more, young Americans liked Buddhists the best, at 66 percent, and Mormons the least, with 54 percent.” As I processed the information, I asked myself a simple question, should people like Christians? The answer according to the Bible may surprise you.
I guess the first question should be, was Christ “likable”? The short answer is that He was popular among those who believed and obeyed Him, and hated by those who did not. So just how preoccupied should we be with “likability”? I don’t see a whole lot of concern, on the part of Christ, with regards to His likability numbers. The instructions to His disciples in Matthew 10:14 was to share the truth, if it was not received, shake off the dust of that house or town and move on. Jesus took the guess work out of rather people would like His followers or not. He said, “they have hated me they will hate you also“. I think it is pretty safe to say that if you adopt a “Christian world view” it will not be popular with the world. Christ and all of His disciples died at the hands of people who hated them. Now, were they “offensive, self-righteous” Christians, or was the message offensive? Now the answer to this question is very important. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard well-meaning, but ignorant, Christians run to the defense of the poor, offended sinner who had been brutalized by some hateful, judgmental person, who had the audacity to tell them the truth. The preoccupation, with not being offensive, is somewhat incompatible with sharing the gospel. Maybe what got the disciples killed was the inherent hatred of the people, of this world, to truth. So, there is a good chance that if we hold a “Christian world view,” and by that I mean that our beliefs actually influence our perspectives and behavior according to the teachings of Christ, we will not be considered likable. If this is something you find unacceptable then you are in the majority. Jesus actually had a stern warning for those who are loved by “all men” Luke 6:26, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.” The true value of a friend is found in their willingness to tell the truth no matter how bad it hurts. So, take courage, choose to live and speak in a way that is pleasing to The One that matters most, opinions of men will perish with them but God’s favor is eternal. Be bold, be pleasing and be faithful to the great commission no matter what the cost.