If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
– Galatians 1:10
We live in a world where from early on we are taught to impress, to impress our teachers, to impress our community, to impress our friends and to impress our society at large. The sad reality is that this turns to a form of appeasement. We are almost expected to appease certain people in certain situations just to get a certain position. It sometimes comes at a cost and we wound our conscience in the process. Maybe we did it for our own glory, or maybe we did it out of fear or maybe we did it because we felt powerless against the sheer number of people who are acting in the way we are secretly resisting.
But the truth is that the Christian is called to stand firm and be obedient to Christ, regardless of our fear and regardless of the pressure setting in. Paul, in the letter to the Galatians, in one sentence sums it up by stating that pleasing people can sometimes be at odds with being obedient to Jesus (see: Galatians 1:10). Every Christian knows his or her faith is unpopular, counter-cultural and sometimes even offensive. To be obedient to Christ will make you rebel against the philosophies of man.
Consider Colossians 2:8:
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
Unlike what we are often told by society, the bible does in fact call us to judge (though not hypocritically, of course). We are to make judgement calls about cultural norms and popular opinions. We are to hold them up into the light of the bible for fair scrutiny. How else are we to know what is truth and what is simply the tradition, culture or philosophy of man? God calls his people to stand out of the crowd. He warns us of the hardships we will endure but more importantly, God graciously tells us of the glorious eternal joys that follow. We are called to be obedient to Jesus but sadly, this can often mean we are rebelling against the norms of our culture. By the grace of God, we will be able to stand firm in those times, regardless of how difficult they may be.
American musician Alice Cooper once beautifully captured the nature of being counter-cultural by saying that:
Drinking beer is easy. Trashing your hotel room is easy. But being a Christian, that’s a tough call. That’s real rebellion.