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C-KingdomCulture

Hated but Likeable

The world’s hatred for Jesus was theological, not sociological

I talk and write often about the concept of likeability because I believe it can have a tremendous impact on our personal and professional lives. The most difficult feedback I receive goes like this: “OK, what you’re saying sounds nice, but should likeability really be our primary objective? Was Jesus likeable?”

This is an important point for me to address because, though I can see how becoming likeable and becoming like Jesus may seem mutually exclusive, I believe the pillars of likeability I mention in my e-book, Likeability: What We Can Learn from Social Media About Becoming Better Humans, are rooted in Scripture and what it teaches. Each of these 10 pillars has played an integral role in my spiritual development.

I got the idea for the 10 pillars of likeability from the time I’ve spent working with and around social media. The more I learned about social media and the more I coached others to be effective on social media, the more I realized that in their use of the things that make a person “likeable” on social media also make him likeable in real life. The pillars include actions such as choosing to like others first (the way God chose to love us before we loved him), discovering what resources people find valuable, and sharing generously whatever we have with them.

When it comes to social media, I encourage individuals to engage in the conversation, to avoid talking about themselves too much, to celebrate and mourn with others, to know their audience, to be interesting people and to keep their messages short and sweet. Honestly, I think these same tenets make us “likeable” in real life; and I believe there are many ways these attitudes and postures overlap with how Jesus ministered. Jesus’ ministry grew and the crowds flocked to Him not because He was self-serving and arrogant but because He was incredibly likeable. He cared for others deeply, was willing to give until it hurt, and never ceased to be interesting and engaging.

Although Jesus wasn’t always liked, I believe He was always likeable. Here’s why: The world’s hatred for Jesus was theological, not sociological.

There is some overlap between the two, of course, but Jesus always made it clear the former was more important. He never fought battles over purely sociological points unless they were important to His theology. Likewise, Paul did not encourage Christians to be social revolutionaries.

Earthly governments were, after all, part of the temporal economy of God (see Rom. 13:1–7). They were a part of the old world that was passing away, and it was not Paul’s intent for the church to disrupt society or overthrow governments. Rather, he encouraged Christians to be good citizens and exemplary members of their families and society as well as to behave in a manner consistent with the teachings of Christ.

What if becoming more likeable by being exemplary members of family and society is the best way to promote the gospel message?

Jesus Responded With Love

Scripture warns Christians they will be hated by the world (see John 15:19), but notice that the same passage warning Christians of certain hatred also commands them to love one another. In this passage, the stark contrast between the love of Christ and the hatred of the world is the same contrast that should be made between Christians and the world.

Even when Jesus was most hated, He never stopped being likeable. He never stopped being generous with everything He had, engaging others in conversation, celebrating and mourning with others, and liking other people, even those who were most awful to Him. When it came time for His life to end, Jesus continued to be generous and gracious, even with those who were killing Him.

When we are hated by the world and wonder how we should respond, we must look to Jesus as our example. Despite being hated, we must continue to be likeable.?


Justin Lathrop has a dozen years of local church ministry experience and has spent the last several years starting businesses and ministries that partner with pastors and churches to advance the kingdom. He serves as a consultant in the area of strategic relations, working predominantly with the Assemblies of God. read more

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When studying church history, some of the most fascinating individuals we meet are the martyrs. These are the untold multitudes who, when given a simple opportunity to deny Christ, found it easier to stand for their faith and die rather than disavow the One who was sacrificed in their stead.

They faced agony and torture of a magnitude that so few of us can comprehend. They were flogged, impaled, crucified, eaten by lions, forced to fight to the death in coliseums and decapitated.

Were they not like us? Would they not have loved to live lives of peace and prosperity in the name of Christ instead? Would they not have loved to sit in our beautiful air-conditioned edifices with state-of-the-art sound, lights and videography? read more

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The title of this article may seem both presumptuous and audacious. Do I really believe every pastor should have a blog? Yes, I do.

I speak to pastors in numerous settings, and I am able to share with them the benefits of such a discipline in writing.

Understand that writing a blog can begin simple, with little time pressure. The pastor can commit to writing 400 words a week in one post. I do recommend that the number of posts increases to at least twice a week later, but you need to start somewhere.

I think you will be amazed how much the blog benefits the church and your ministry. Here are seven reasons why it is so important: read more

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Though every ounce of my being is tempted to respond in condemning judgmentalism, I will obey God’s command and judge not.

As with everything else, Christianity has changed in this new millennium. The question we must all ask is, Is it for the better or for the worse? Never before has the church earned such a poor reputation as we have in this generation. It appears as if the current church in America has two gods—the god of attendance and the god of money. We are seen as superficial, arrogant, self-serving, unloving and unholy. read more

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To say that issues surrounding the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer movement are sensitive to navigate would be a gross understatement. Here are three mistakes that are often made in our ministries:

1. People make “gay” jokes. Statements like, “That’s gay,” or, “What are you, gay?” are exactly the types of things that will repel someone who needs to have a safe place to share. This will alienate kids and make you completely unsafe to talk to. We come across as arrogant and condemning. Huge mistake. read more

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George Barna reveal in a survey in 2009 that only 19 percent of Christians hold a biblical worldview and that less than 4 percent of those in their 20s hold a biblical worldview. Are we losing the culture battle? Can the church any longer impact the culture today, given such statistics that reveal the state of the church?

The church is often referred to as an institution instead of a people who love and serve society for the purpose of influencing culture. We’ve reduced the church to a place where we go on Sunday instead of a people that is the church spread throughout the marketplace daily. People either worship in spirit and truth, or they settle for religious ritual on the church mountain. read more

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1. I’m not going to let him (or her) hurt me anymore.

2. I don’t need any help.

3. I’ve got this under control.

4. I’m only going to try it one time.

5. God and I have an understanding.

6. I’m a self-made man (or woman). read more

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One of the things that a few church leaders have questioned me about recently is my repetition in saying, “The best is yet to come,” or that the next Sunday or event is going to be “the best ever!”

Honestly, I’m glad people have talked with me about it because it has allowed me to reflect on why I am always saying those things. There are several reasons:

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All of us who lead in a church understand the cost of doing ministry—the financial cost, that is. We know our budgets and the limits of what we can afford or not afford.

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1. A complaining culture. We all know what this means. It’s that thing that says, “It’s not my way, so I’m going to complain about it.” Your church can’t afford that. You have to teach your people and get it into your DNA that people simply can’t complain. You want your people to be about 80 percent happy. When people are 80 percent happy, you know you’re reaching all kinds of people. The second people get 100 percent happy, you will only reach those just like them. Here’s the thing: Teach your people that they can’t complain about the 20 percent they’re not happy with. It’s suffocating to your church and your vision. The cost is too high. read more

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The term profiling is relatively new in today's vocabulary. It became nationally popular in the early 80s, when the public suspected and targeted a person, or persons, on the basis of some characteristic, behavior, color, race or religion. This has become known as profiling, usually carrying a negative connotation.

Before jumping into biblical profiling, which is a major step in God's direction, let me share with you my horrifying experience of personal profiling. I speak from an event sketched in my memory forever. This is a story I'd rather not relive, but I will offer it up for your benefit and to lay a firm foundation for the value of profiling others. read more

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I’ve been called a lot of things in my life but I never thought I’d be called the “Anti-Fat Pastor.”  Not me, the one who for years wouldn’t go to bed until I’d eaten my nightly giant bowl of ice cream as I sat in my La-Z-Boy™ recliner.

“The Anti-Fat Pastor,” who me? The one who weighed in at 340 pounds and suffered with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes? Wow! Has my life changed!

Someone once said a journey begins with the first step. My journey began with a prayer to God for guidance with my weight and health issues. My first step was the decision to live better once my heart was impressed with a passage from the scriptures that would inspire me to change. read more

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