So often we hear in sermons or read in books about how if we do [blank] as Christians—paper-products ministries for low-income families, after school programs… you name it— then the world would be less hostile to the Church.
While it’s true that Christians ought to be known by their love for one another—a radical, self-sacrificing love—I’m not sure that the expression of that love is going to actually make people who hate Jesus want to love Him, at least not in the way that many advocates of these activities seem to suggest.
I’ve touched on the subject before, but it’s one that, after reading The Hole in our Holiness (reviewed here), I couldn’t help coming back to… or more correctly, sharing the very helpful way that Kevin DeYoung articulates the issue:
Many Christians have the mistaken notion that if only we were better Christians, everyone would appreciate us. They don’t realize that holiness comes with a cost. Sure, you can focus on the virtues the world likes. But if you pursue true religion that cares for orphans and promotes purity (James 1:27), you’ll lose some of the friends you were so desperate to make. Becoming a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, requires you to resist the world which wants to press you into its mold (Rom. 12:1–2). Saving yourself for marriage, staying sober on Friday night, turning down a promotion to stay at your church, refusing to say the f-word, turning off the television—these are the kinds of things the world doesn’t understand. Don’t expect them to. The world provides no cheerleaders on the pathway to godliness.
Let that sink in. It’s not that orphan care or working with inner-city youth are bad things, but if holiness is our pursuit, even when we do things the world would see as “good,” they’re going to have a problem with the way we do them.
And it really comes down to who we represent.
Because the world hates Jesus, they’re going to hate those who desire to be like Him. Because the world despises Jesus, it’s going to do the same to those who come in His name, no matter what good deeds they strive to perform.
Don’t expect them to cheer you on in your pursuit of holiness. But don’t let the lack of support stop you.