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I was watching some news about the political and social environment we are living in today, and a thought came to mind.  "Sometimes, it's just easier to be hated."  This sounds unusual I'm sure, but my intent wasn't to endorse being offensive, or close-minded, or an outright jerk.  What I meant was... well, let me explain it this way.  You see, I've never been a person who sought to fit in at the cost of myself, my personhood, or what I knew to be right.  I've never been a people pleaser or a trend-chaser, and falling in line with oppressive, controlling, or judgmental crowds was never my style.  So, I've been an "outsider" fairly often throughout my life, and I'm okay with that.  However, there are those who want to fit in at almost any cost.  And to do so, sometimes they have to play the game.  So, they do what they are told to do, think what they are told to think, and go wherever the crowd leads them.  And if they don't, they are punished severely.  But, sometimes, it's just easier to be hated... and happy... and free.  Many are abandoning themselves just to fit in, and peer groups are often on the hunt for those who don't fall in line.  But, aren't you tired of having to perform, rather than being who you were made to be?  Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV) "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  Galatians 5:1 (NIV) It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

I was talking with an acquaintance a while back.  She had been trying to contact her son by phone that day, but was a bit frustrated that she was unable to do so.  She told me how her son often wouldn't answer the phone, and that he would never voluntarily call her.  So I prayed, and literally minutes later he called her.  Great, right?  Well...  When she picked up the phone, she immediately began complaining about how he never calls her, as well as a number of other things, even though he just called.  Surprised by her behavior I said to her, "Your son finally calls you, and now you're berating him?"  She laughed -- yes, laughed -- and said, "Yeah I know!" and continued on.  In getting to know this lady, it was obvious that her son's behavior was related to how she treated him.  But, unfortunately, this isn't an isolated incident.  I can't count the number of times I've seen children nitpicked or badgered by their own parents, only for the parent to mask their own ill behavior as discipline, or righteous correction.  The fact is, this is a form of abuse, and it can play a significant role in driving our children away -- not just away from us, but from God.  Then, when approached by those with smooth talk and flattery, many will remember how they were treated badly, and threatened to obey their parents "because of God."  (Ephesians 6:1-3)  Yet, oddly, these parents never seem to read just one passage further down the page.  Ephesians 6:4 (NLT) Fathers, (or parents) do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. ...  Children are not our property to do with as we please -- they belong to God.  We cannot treat them callously, thoughtlessly, or without restraint, without both child and parent reaping the consequences.

There's no denying it -- prejudice exists.  It doesn't matter who we are, or what group we belong to, someone, somewhere will have unreasonable, preconceived ideas about us.  This is unfortunate, but what's even more unfortunate is, a lot of people have been harmed by prejudice.  Sometimes understandably, other times... not so much.  When I was young, I went through some circumstances that led me to believe that any girls who giggled or laughed for no apparent reason must be laughing at me.  Sounds absurd, right?  Well, it was; but to me it was real.  I believed it, and it helped to make me miserable.  However, the truth of the matter was, I was hurt, and because of this, I allowed myself to lose sight of reality.  When we lose sight of reality, the things we are willing to believe are astounding.  They generally start small, but can soon balloon out of control if left unchecked.  It's for this reason that some believe there are more than two genders.  It's why some believe a child is a child only if it's wanted, otherwise it's just a blob of tissue.  It's why some see racism, sexism, homophobia, or whatever else, at every turn.  It's even why some Christians are convinced that those who believe differently than themselves aren't Christian, or that ministers who teach about tithing are greedy and only looking for a payday.  No, my fellow Christians, we too are not impervious to wayward thinking.  Yes, prejudice exists, and, at times, it can be damaging.  Nevertheless, don't allow it to lead you into a false reality, or cause you to respond with more prejudice.  The fact is, your own thinking can hold you in bondage far more effectively than any person can.  And if your thinking is based in a false reality, misery will be your lot in life.  Romans 8:31, Romans 12:2, Galatians 5:1

I talk to a lot of people, some of whom disagree with my beliefs and points of view.  And that's okay; we aren't all going to agree on everything all the time.  But, here's the real issue.  When people disagree, much of the time they do so without regard to any other point of view.  If something doesn't match what they believe, they simply disregard it.  And what's worse, some don't even know why; all they know is it's different than what they are used to.  This can be dangerous because this leads to judging according to our understanding of God's word rather than the word itself.  For example, once someone disagreed with a message I had written and quoted a couple of scriptures to make their point.  However, when they took a second look at them, they apparently realized that the passages they had quoted actually agreed with what I had said... so they deleted them.  In its place, they gave an explanation for their disagreement which was, and I quote, "It's complicated."  This is disingenuous at best, and willful ignorance at worst.  They saw that what I had written was scripturally sound, but they were too stubborn to consider a point of view different than what they were used to.  Don't become unteachable.  Don't become so closed off that you refuse to consider other points of view.  Remember, Israel become unteachable and God had to deal with them harshly because of it.  (See Isaiah 65)  Proverbs 12:15 (NIV) The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

In my walk through life, I've encountered those who, for one reason or another, always choose to see me in a negative light.  If they saw anything good in me, they would ignore it, or try to turn it into something negative.  Some even watched intently looking for reasons to accuse me, or to ridicule me.  Unfortunately, this kind of behavior is quickly becoming the norm for many, and we are abandoning time tested principles which promote peace and civility with one another.  Many feel justified in doing so since they believe they are standing for what is right, or that their side is the good side.  But we shouldn't be standing for what is right by doing what is wrong.  Don't follow those trying to lead you down this road -- choose better character.  If you wouldn't like someone doing it to you, then don't do it to someone else.  See people through God's eyes; we are all fearfully and wonderfully made -- made in the image of God no less.  Choose to judge rightly, and righteously, rather than according to an agenda.  The more angry and the more hardened we become, the less likely we will be able to see objectively, and the more likely we'll be harmed personally.  Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.


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