"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." (Galatians 6:7)
In other words (can I say this?): God will have His "pound of flesh". Now that I think about it, it says as much. "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." (Romans 12:19) But dial it down a bit and look at it from our perspective.
Notice this passage from Luke's Gospel (13:1-5) "There were present at that season some that told Him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
Many a time throughout the time before Christ did a charismatic leader rise up and unite a mob of dispossessed and disgruntled Jews against their Roman invaders. More charlatans than anything, they were made examples of by the Roman government of what not to do. Jesus wasn't the only person to die on a cross, splayed out for the rest of the world to see. When Jesus stood before Pilate and said "My kingdom is not of this world..." (John 18:36), He's answering Him in this context. And whereas His example of life and death (and resurrection) is righteous and honorable, others who shared a similar gruesome fate weren't so blessed, their memory fading with their expiry.
"Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people." (Psalm 44:14)
What do you want to be remembered for? Whether it's wherever you're at, however temporarily, or ultimately upon leaving this world for the next? A good question, no? Because those coming after who know and will have known you, are forming their opinions. The thing about Christianity and about Christians is that we owe our overarching definition to one Person. The tip of the spear: Jesus Christ. And He lived His life an exemplar of pure morality, absolute compassion and total self-effacing abandonment to a higher, greater cause. This is what people see. Yes, it goes without saying that "nobody's perfect". No seriously, stop saying that. It's become clichéd to the point of pathos. Yes, we are not perfect, but people shouldn't be paying attention to our imperfections. Because perfect or non, it's still us that is getting the attention. And, whoops! When we make a mistake and slip up (inevitable), the blame is somehow not levelled at us, it's at the one whom we represent, however subconsciously in their minds. A paradigm shift is in order.
It's one thing to learn from others' mistakes. But learning from our own, so that God doesn't end up wasting His time with our lives is the order of the day. Consider this:
"Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them." (Jeremiah 1:17)
This is God speaking sternly to a young Jeremiah. Don't get me wrong, in no way am I downplaying or redefining what it says here, but I think what is being expressed here in this verse is the serious nature of that which God tasked Jeremiah with performing. Namely telling Judah that they had backslidden and gone after other gods. This kind of commission is not to be taken lightly. And God has no choice but to maintain His exacting standards of holiness when we fail. Sadly, we're the ones who end up getting made to look like the fool when we play the fool. Understand also, that what God said to Him had been prefaced with some of the most encouraging exhortation to be found in the Bible: "Then the Lord put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth." (1:9)
Take heart. It's one thing to think too highly of peer opinions. It's quite another to consider how we're perceived by the world at large considering we bear the standard of the most notorious (and rightfully so) person in history.
"Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another." (Mark 9:50) Salt has one purpose--saltiness. This is the parallel Jesus is seeking to explain here. Without its saltiness, salt is nothing. Without Jesus, without Christlikeness, a "Christian" is...