“Christians today hold firmly to the 11th Commandment, and the 11th Commandment is, 'Thou Shalt Be Nice,' and we don’t hold to the other ten.” ~Vodie Baucham
I have to admit, I've spent a lot of my life focused on that non-existent 11th commandment. It's changed a bit in this second half of my life, the half after everything got flipped upside down. I don't focus quite as much on being nice despite the consequences, though I still hesitate to speak up with the truth if I know it's going to hurt somebody's feelings.
The world today, though, doesn't need "nice" Christians. The world has enough "nice" people who validate every feeling and whim, people who go along with anything and everything, who think that the way to best help people is to confirm their every desire. What the world needs right now is followers of Christ who will stand up like He did, followers who will point out sin when needed so that people can be saved from it, followers who are willing to topple tables when the money changers set up shop in the temple, followers who are as blameless as a lamb but as ferocious as a lion when needed--
--just like the Lion of Judah and the Lamb who was slain.
Being "nice," especially in today's world, is a matter of being politically correct. It's saying and doing the things that are deemed socially acceptable at the moment.
- a woman that an abortion of convenience is fine as long as it makes her happy in the moment
- a boy that he can pretend to be a girl if it feels right
- people searching for truth and meaning that all they have to do is try to make their good deeds outweigh their bad
- a thief that stealing is okay as long as it's from the rich
- our teens and 20-somethings that sex is nothing more than a way to know if you're compatible with someone
- a coworker that the ends justify the means
- our kids that their happiness is more important than their character
- women that their role in society is the same as the role of men
- students to focus on self-fulfillment instead of being of service
- people they can riot in the streets and destroy whatever they want over hurt feelings
- lost, hurting people that there are innumerable ways to God--and that it doesn't matter which way you pick as long as you're sincere
- young kids that "love is love" while ignoring God's design for love within the covenant of marriage between a man and woman
- those dealing with life-stealing sins that they don't have to change because "God made you that way"
"Being nice" is a whole host of things, and most of them do nothing to help people. Most of the time when we're concerned about trying to be nice, all we really mean is that we don't want to be truthful because we'll most likely ruffle some feathers. If I'm focused on "being nice," I'm more worried about what somebody's going to think about me than telling them the truth.
I'm not saying it's time to start bashing people over the head with Scripture (though sometimes all of us seem to learn hard lessons a bit better that way). Though I've seen people take that approach many times in the past, I can't say that I've seen it work out very well. I am saying, though, that we have to stop filtering our words through the filter of political correctness. As Christians, our entire faith distills down to the fact that Jesus is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" and the one and only way for us to come to God. If we let people believe anything short of that--or, as is sadly the case more and more right now, actually tell them it doesn't matter--then we are failing them and failing God. If we let people believe that they just need to focus on doing the right thing or on making a difference instead of making sure they know that it's all about becoming a follower of Christ and accepting His gift of salvation, we are deceiving them (and ourselves, most likely). Even more than that, though, we are calling Christ a liar. If He is not the only way to the Father, then faith in Him is worthless and His death was a waste.
"I can’t dismiss God’s grace, and I won’t.
If being right with God depends on how we measure up to the law,
then the Anointed’s sacrifice on the cross
was the most tragic waste in all of history!"
Earlier in his letter to the Galatians (1:10), Paul wrote,
"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God?
Or am I trying to please people?
If I were still trying to please people,
I would not be a servant of Christ."
Too often, I find myself more worried about winning the approval of people than I am about pleasing God. I hear something I disagree with and I stop myself from speaking up, a little voice in my head telling me that if I say the wrong thing that person might not like me anymore. In today's society, speaking up can have what seem like serious repercussions. People who say things that go against the popular narrative find themselves shut out and "cancelled," to use the wording of the day.
But at some point, all my concerns for what people might think of me have to be set aside. At some point, each one of us is faced with the decision Paul faced: do I worry about what people think, or do I worry solely about pleasing God?
That decision doesn't look the same for everyone. For some, that stand is one that gets put on display in front of millions. It's a stand that requires great earthly sacrifice--career, friends, aspirations, goals--and has direct, painful ramifications. For others, the decision to focus on pleasing God instead of people is quieter. It's the decision not to go along with the crowd, despite the lure of social standing. It's teaching your kids that what feels right doesn't mean anything in light of what actually is right.
It's time to stop focus on being nice and instead focus on doing right. We have to stand for God's truth despite what society says, because how else will the world see that there is salvation from everything that leaves them broken and hurting?