Popularity – who and what enjoys it and for what reasons is in a constant state of flux. Today or tomorrow, trends bestow greater attention and affection for this or that person, place, or thing. And just as quickly, the critical mass evaporates or else shifts to some other.
According to Wikipedia, which should itself be regarded as a kind of popular consensus encyclopedia, and the amalgam of what the online world wants to know and believe about everything, popularity as a concept stems from the Latin word popularis, or “common.”
In a world dominated by modernism and post-modernism, by every kind of idol and rejection of idols, what is regarded as agreed in common changes from day to day, week to week, and month to month. From one year to the next, decade after decade, popularity ebbs and flows.
What then should the Christian make of popularity?
One thing which is increasingly unpopular is to believe in the truth found only in Christ – that God is the Creator and Lord of the Universe; that the Word has been given to us to know truth from falsehood, righteousness from wickedness, and wisdom from folly.
If you believe that truth, you will act and speak accordingly. And increasingly, as current trends go and historical precedent should inform us, this particular kind of unpopularity will translate into persecution.
We do well, then, to not hitch the wagon of our identity to whether we are well liked by the world for following Christ. And all the more as we see trouble coming, we are wise to grapple with not fearing man, not casting pearls before swine, and not being conformed to the pattern of this world.
“The fear of man lays a snare,” as Proverbs 29:25 tells us. “But whoever trusts in Yahweh is safe.”
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