You know what’s threatening to a man? When he has something he treasures more than life itself, and you want to take it.
You know what’s even more threatening? When you don’t want it at all.
Now, you’re truly dangerous.
You’re dangerous, because without saying anything, you’re a walking invalidation of an idol, and people don’t want their idols questioned. You’ll cause intense cognitive distress.
Oh, it’s one thing to beat someone in a race – that makes you annoying; nobody likes that – but it’s another thing, entirely, to not care about that race at all.
People who find their meaning in money won’t understand you if you are free from finding your meaning in money. People who find their meaning in romance, popular approval, power, religious reputation, or celebrity won’t understand you if you are free from finding your meaning in those things. And so often it won’t be a benign, “I don’t understand you.” It’ll yield anger, because you’re a threat.
They may just get rid of you, or, if they’re cowardly, silently hope that you just leave. They’ll ask themselves, “If he’s not playing on my playing field, what’s wrong with him?”
And they’ll need to find that something, because otherwise, they’re left with the Question the Proud Must Not Ask:
What’s wrong with me?
They will not ask that question. They can not. It’s easier to be rid of you. Humans will go so far as to execute a man – an innocent man – if they have to, to avoid The Question. They’ve done it thousands of times. Such is the power of the human conscience.
Play by Jesus’ rules, and the world will hate you. He promised as much. And yes, “the world” will include both the secular elite and impressive professing Christians and religious leaders, the same people who sent Jesus to the cross.
You’re not playing their game. Why aren’t you impressed by the things that impress them? Why can’t you play along? What’s wrong with you?
Jesus said the Truth will make you free. Flannery O’Connor said it’ll also make you profoundly odd. People won’t know what to do with you, because they won’t know how to bribe you. Like Rich Mullins sang, “The world can’t stand what it can’t own.”
No wonder it couldn’t stand Jesus.
In a world of idols, including religious ones, a free man or woman is a dangerous thing, indeed.