Whose opinion do you value most?
The unbeliever's or God's?
At first that question seems like an easy one to answer. That is, until we take a good look at our lives. The fact of the matter is what unbelievers think about us and about Christian faith often influences our lives more than we think.
Their opinions often influence the way we speak.
I mean, where would you say it is easier to talk about Christ and the gospel? At church, or at work?
At church, of course.
At church we have no problem saying, 'The Lord is more important to me than anyone else...' At work, we feel like we've done something amazing if we can muster up the courage to say, 'Thank you Lord.'
At church, people agree. At work, they don't. What unbelievers think about Christ changes the way we talk. They don't think much of Christ so we don't speak much of Him.
Their opinions often influence the way we feel.
I know for myself I've never been embarrassed to drive my Ford Aerostar to church. When I come here to meet with Christians I never think negatively about my 1993 bright blue green I don't know what color it really is min-van, but if I have to meet with an unbeliever, there are times when hopping out of my van, I feel a bit differently.
When we come to church the people we meet with by and large are believers and they understand biblical values; but when we go to work and interact with people in the world they don't and so their opinions can tempt us to become embarrased about living all out for Christ.
We say we value God's opinion above the world's but we often live like the world's opinion is more valuable than God's. That's why I want to remind you of one fundamental problem when it comes to the Christian life with allowing the world's opinion to change the way you speak, feel, think and act.
The world's opinion is wrong.
The world was wrong about Jesus christ.
Peter makes that clear in 1 Peter 2:4,
"As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious..."
Reading this verse is a little bit like watching a movie. Peter's the cameraman and he's zooming in on a very unusual scene.
A group of men huddled around a stone.
Not a rock that you might pick up on the side of the road or at the edge of a creek, no this is a stone that has been prepared, one that is specially designed for use in the construction of a building.
This particular stone is a very important one; it's to be the cornerstone, the stone around which the rest of the building revolves and on which the rest of the building stands.
Intent on building a place to meet with God these men are examining this stone carefully, deciding whether or not it will meet their exacting standards and be useful for accomplishing the task they have set out to perform.
You might imagine one of them picking it up, setting it down, another walking slowly around it, eyeing it from every angle, each of them looking at one another, shaking their heads, and finally saying in unison, 'Useless...'
That stone is Jesus.
As we come to Jesus, we must remember that we are coming to a living stone rejected by men.
When Jesus came into the world, the world that he made, the world did not know Him. 'He came to His own people, and his own people did not receive him.'
He did not meet their standards of what a Savior should be.
'This man eats with tax collectors and sinners'
'This man claims to forgive sins'
'This man doesn't do everything the way we think he should'
'This man is no Savior. He is possessed.'
When Jesus rose again and sent out messengers to proclaim His victory to the world, the world again soundly rejected Him.
Over and over again.
Peter proclaiming Jesus in Jerusalem, threatened and imprisoned...
Stephen proclaiming Jesus before the Jewish leaders, slandered and stone...
Paul proclaiming Jesus in Athens before the intellectual giants of his day, ridiculed and dismissed...
Jesus didn't meet their standards of what a Savior should be.
To the Jews he was a stumbling block.
To the Greeks, foolishness.
After Jesus rose again the world's opinion of him was the same as that of those who crucified him, the same opinion every unbeliever holds today:
'No good. Useless.'
Jesus is a living stone rejected by men.
Don't let the Jesus is my homeboy t-shirts and cross necklaces and WWJD bracelets worn by unconverted people fool you, the only Jesus that unconverted person will accept apart from the grace of God is a Jesus they have made up in their own mind.
A fictional Jesus.
Everybody likes the fictional Jesus, the Jesus who says exactly what you want him to say and does exactly what you want him to do. The historical Jesus, the Jesus of Scripture, that's a different matter altogether.
The world's opinion of that Jesus is entirely negative.
The world is wrong.
Does the world's rejection of Jesus mean God has rejected Him? Does the world's attitude towards Jesus reflect God's?
Not in the least.
"As you come to Him...' Peter writes, you are coming to 'a living stone, rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious...'
The most important stone in God's plan for building a spiritual place to dwell in is the very stone the world rejects.
When the world tells us not to speak up for Jesus, when the world tells us it is foolish to live for Jesus, when the world's attitude towards the faith starts to influence ours in a negative way, we must remind ourselves that just as the world was wrong about Jesus, the world is wrong about us.