Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Pleasing the Crowd

The desire to conform is a powerful motivator. There is a story told about the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:15; 2:6). It is probably not true, but it tells us about the atmosphere of the group. The story is told that the Nicolas it was named after was one of the original seven deacons (Acts 6:5). It was claimed that he had a very beautiful wife and, in a fit of very unchristian humility, offered to share her with the other deacons.  This illustrates a particular approach to sin. Sexual impropriety engaged in, not as a result of a grand passion or out of control desires, but in order to please other people.

This fits in with the original description of the Nicolaitans in Revelation (Revelation 2:12-17). They were where Satan’s throne was, a strongly pagan area with temples of Zeus and emperor worship. They also lived in a very decadent society. There would have been considerable pressure to fit in, going through the motions of idolatry and participating in sexual immorality. 

Scripture clearly teaches that there is a danger in being conformed to the world (Romans 12:1,2; 1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4). But it also condemns the brittle self-righteousness that totally withdraws from all outside contact (1 Corinthians 9:19-23; Matthew 9:10-13; Luke 19:1-10). This is a complicated tightrope to walk. To reach people, we need to be willing to meet them where they are, but if we do so, there is a danger of being pulled down by them. This is a difficult balance that has been struggled with throughout church history: being in the world and not of the world (John 17:14-16). It is a hard one to maintain.

We need to start by realizing that this is a problem. If we do not recognize we are walking a tightrope, we are in danger of unknowingly leaning too far one way or the other and falling off. We need to realize we are not as strong as we think we are (1 Corinthians 10:12,13; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22). We need to reach out, but to use caution. We live in a culture that is, in many ways, hostile to Christianity, and we must be aware of this. We need to be prepared for it by being grounded in God’s truth (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16,17; 2:15). Our focus needs to be on pleasing God, rather than men (Galatians 1:10; Proverbs 29:25; Colossians 3:22-24). Also, we need to be in fellowship with other Christians who can support and encourage us (Hebrews 10:24,25; 12:12,13; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). We need to be in contact with unbelievers to reach out to those outside, but we need to be in community with believers to be firm in our faith. But it is only if we are careful and take precautions that we can avoid falling off the tightrope one way or the other.

No comments:

Post a Comment