I realize that I may have to start doing so simply based upon the title above. It is certainly not meant to be dismissive or cavalier. Nor is it meant to be a disrespectful statement of your relative worth as a fellow human. It is, instead, a considered statement of the value system I embrace and the cost I am willing to bear as I uphold that system. Let me explain.
We are to be concerned with the thoughts of others. If nothing else, the Golden Rule would dictate that I treat others in a fair and respectable way (Matt. 7:12). But there are other Biblical reminders of our obligations to treat others appropriately: “He that despiseth [holds in contempt, holds as insignificant – RB] his neighbor sinneth” (Pro. 14:21); “The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: (Pro. 15:2); “let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col. 4:6); “Put them in mind … to speak evil of no man, not to be contentious, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men” (Tit. 3:1-2). So by my title I am not attempting to justify rude or intentionally offensive behavior.
I am, however, bringing to the fore the fact that we are to be most concerned with what God thinks of us and our actions. We need to be concerned with ordering our lives according to His stipulations, irrespective of what others may think of these decisions (Ps. 119:133). As the psalmist said, “Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God” (Ps. 119:115). Even my own desires are to be subordinated to the wishes of Jehovah, just as Jesus voiced in Mark 14:36, “… nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wilt.” So my first concern is with pleasing the Lord, not myself, my family, my neighbors, my community, etc. Certainly it is He Who instructs me not to be careless in my dealings with others, as per above, but His will is to be placed first.
Which means that once we have affairs properly ordered in this way, we must continue down the course the Lord dictates regardless of what others think. And if there should be a conflict, I will tell you in advance what decision I will make. “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). And these words were uttered to the Jewish leaders who opposed Peter and the other apostles preaching about Jesus. But God told them to preach. The disapproval of the leaders of the people did not outweigh Peter’s sense of duty to the Lord. When Paul stood before Festus and King Agrippa, making defense of his actions in preaching about Christ, Festus mocked the apostle saying, “Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad” (Acts 26:24). How interesting to note his response – “I am not made, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness” (26:26). Far from being either disrespectful or cowering, Paul simply stated the truth – he had found a Way not to be denied or regretted. And then he voiced his desire that Agrippa be a Christian also! He did not need their approval; he wanted to win their hearts for Christ!
I can certainly attempt to bridge these gaps in understanding and relations; I need not be purposely callous or rude. My defiance is based upon greater, more sublime principles that reflect a higher calling. It is not predicated upon arrogance or disdain, but a desire to do what is right and, like Paul, seek to help others do the same.
Once again, I do not intend to be careless with your emotions or feelings. However, it is enough for me to know that the Lord is pleased with my course. And I know that those who tend to godly things will also approve my course. For all others, the changes may need to be made in their thoughts and values, not mine, and that is what leads to disapproval. I can live with that.