READ: 2 Samuel 13-15, Psalm 95, Matthew 6, 1 Thessalonians 2
It is impossible to please everyone, so you might as well be devoted to pleasing Jesus. It is a fallacy to think that we will be liked for preaching the gospel. Deep within every human is a desire and a need to be affirmed, respected, and admired. Proclamation of the gospel does not satisfy this need – not from humans at least. The gospel brings about as much ire and anger as it does acceptance. Paul knew this and reminded the Thessalonians that despite suffering and set back he had been bold to speak the gospel to them “in much conflict….not as pleasing men…never using flattery…never seeking glory” (1 Thess. 2:2-6).
It is revolutionary to consider that according to Jesus the Kingdom of God is not all inclusive. Matthew 6 talks of food, drink, and clothing, and then instructs us to “seek first the kingdom, and all these things will be ADDED to you.” Logically, if they are to be added, they cannot be essential parts of the kingdom. The kingdom is foundational, primary, spiritual, and eternal. By the same token, the gospel is not us nor what we do. Paul tells the Thessalonians that the gospel is preached (verbal communication concerning what God has done in Christ) and that not only was the gospel shared, but “also our own lives” (1 Thess. 2:8). Again, logically our lives are not the gospel; they are something in addition to the primary communication of what Jesus has done.
To draw a line between the Kingdom of God inside of us and food and clothing, or between the verbally proclaimed gospel and shared lives, is not to diminish either. We are to live blamelessly and walk worthy of the gospel and the kingdom (1 Thess. 2:11-12), but the Bible refuses to equate the internal kingdom and external living or the message and the missionary. Man loves to be liked and so much of what we offer to a broken world is based in part on their acceptance of us for what we do. In John 10:34, Jesus is told by his attackers: “For a good work we do not stone you, but for blasphemy and because you, being a man, make yourself God.” Jesus was appreciated for the physical acts of mercy and provision He offered, and He was hated for His verbal truth, for His verbal claim to be God.
If we are to be true to the Kingdom and the gospel, we must be prepared to be resented. Doing good (even in mission) in order to be liked and seen by men is its own reward (Matt. 6:1-5). If we are to please God, we must declare that Jesus is God. This is a message resented by both Muslims and secularists and most everyone else as well. A steady proclamation of Jesus as God leaves no room for any other ideology; it is a mutually exclusive claim – demanding all worship and allegiance. A commitment to the deity of Jesus is a commitment to being disliked. To please God is to disappoint man. To verbally lift up the divine Christ despite pressure and scorn, suffering and trial is to please God.