Some of you have probably heard me say this before, but I would never want to be someone in the spotlight. When Mike and I were engaged, the thought of walking down the aisle at our upcoming wedding was scary because everyone would be watching me, and that is nothing compared to the spotlight that others live under. In honesty, if I could have skipped the whole aisle thing, that would have been just fine with me. I am not a fan of big groups of people. I am not a fan of talking in front of people. I am not a fan of people watching me. And I am certainly not a fan of the criticism that comes with being watched. I often think that I can’t wrap my mind around how celebrities do it, living constantly under the scrutiny of the public eye. Let’s take this to another level, Christians who are in the spotlight. I see them criticized all the time for the ministry decisions they make, and for following where God is leading. The past few weeks fans of the old Christian band dc Talk have been eagerly awaiting a big announcement from them that came yesterday. Like everyone else, I was hoping for a reunion tour. Many felt let down with the news that the big announcement was not a tour but a cruise. Many fans didn’t take the news well, and were very vocal about it on social media, a lot of the times not every nicely. I bring this up because if you are a Christian and if you seek to follow the path He has before you, you will face criticism.
Who Are You Trying To Please?
The criticism that I have read around this cruise really got me thinking that as Christians, who are we seeking to please? For dc Talk, was a cruise verses a tour the popular decision among fans? Probably not, but is that what God lead them to do?
I can’t help but think of when God had Moses lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt to the land that He promised their forefathers…a land they themselves never actually got to inhabit. At first getting out of Egypt seemed great to the Israelites, but it wasn’t long before things got hard and they became discontent with Moses’ leading. I can imagine what was going through his head as he was following God’s lead at the same time he is hearing the Israelite’s complain. Why would you have me lead these ungrateful people? Wouldn’t it have been better to just stay in Egypt? God, why would you have me lead your people out of Egypt if they were going to be so disobedient? Ugh, is this even worth it? Do those thoughts sound familiar?
You may be walking the path to become a missionary, and getting heat from your family because they do not understand your commitment to following where He leads. You may be a worship leader and under criticism for the song that God strongly laid on your heart to play last week. You may be engaged and not moving in with your fiance until you are married, and are being made fun of because of it. You may be facing scrutiny for your work in ministry because “your priorities aren’t straight” (been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and the hat and towel and shorts and beach bag), or for the ministry decisions that you are more than confident about that doesn’t exactly fit others ideas of how you should be leading. I made most of this up, but these struggles are real, and they can lead you to really question if following Him is worth it.
Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
1 Peter 4:16
So what’s the point of following His lead, if you are met with criticism and discontent? Is being obedient worth it? If we desire to follow His way, we have to be confident in Who is leading us and accept the fact that making decisions to following His path can sometimes (let’s be real…more than sometimes) be unpopular in the eyes of others. Although this can sometimes be painful, following where God leads is always worth it and should always be our leading desire. He never promises that following Him would be easy. In fact, His word says the opposite.
I love the verse I shared above. This verse calls us as Christian’s to something bigger than what comes against us. I am pretty sure that when Peter says “suffer” he is not talking about the type of the criticism that I am writing about, but our response in times of receiving this should be what he encourages. To glorify God in times that can dishearten us. For the aspiring missionary who is coming across heat from their family for following God’s lead, that may mean praying that your family will come to know the true sacrifice that Jesus has made that drives you to share that love with others. For the worship leader who was criticized for that song choice last week, know that if He lead you to play it, He also used it to change someone’s life. For the one facing scrutiny because “your priorities are not straight”, maybe this is a time for you to share your commitment to Jesus.
I don’t know what you are up against while following Him, but I do know that He encourages us to be strong and courageous as you walk the path He has before you.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.