Know this for certain: if it is popular in the world, then it cannot be of God.
God says: “as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9). Jesus goes even further to reveal that the ways of God are not only different from, but often diametrically opposite to, those of man. He insists that: “What is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15).
This means that if man thinks something is black, God is likely to consider it to be white. If man thinks that something is good, God is likely to consider it to be bad. Or if man thinks something is beautiful, God is likely to consider it to be ugly.
Let me put this even more graphically. If man establishes a university and says that the first one hundred pupils in the exam would be admitted, then know that in God’s university it is the last one hundred pupils that would be admitted. Or if man has an Olympic Games and gives the gold medal to the person who comes first, then be sure that in God’s Olympic Games the gold medal would be given to the person who comes last. The first must become last and the last become the first.
God seems to violate deliberately every human yardstick and criterion. This inclination was a matter of great fascination to Solomon. He notes that: “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favour to men of skill.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11).
When God sent Samuel to anoint one of the sons of Jesse as the new king of Israel, Samuel forgot that he was not acting on behalf of a man. He immediately jumped to the conclusion that Eliab, the oldest, tallest and most distinguished son, was the Lord’s choice. But the Lord quickly corrected him: “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Reversal of fortune
The kingdom of God is designed to bring about a radical transformation of the human or world order. For this reason, God works in contradictions, creating a reversal of fortunes: “The LORD kills and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and brings up. The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and lifts up.” (1 Samuel 2:6-7).
According to the counsel of God, the rich are going to become poor and the poor are going to become rich. Therefore, if you are rich be considerate. Use your riches wisely for the time of poverty is coming. If you are poor take heart, your time of enrichment is coming. Let the weak say that they are strong, and let the strong realise that by strength no man can prevail. The older shall serve the younger, and the master shall become the slave.
John the Baptist prophesied that: “Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:4-5). Observe that the glory of the Lord cannot be revealed until every valley is exalted and every mountain and hill brought low.
Accordingly, every advantage in the world becomes a disadvantage in the kingdom of God. Likewise every disadvantage in the world becomes an advantage in the kingdom of God. Every mountain of beauty, wealth, position, brains, skill, background or pedigree shall be brought low. Every valley of ugliness, poverty, lowliness, stupidity, lack of skills, lack of education, or lack of social status shall be exalted.
At the end of the age, God has promised that: “All the trees of the field shall know that I, the LORD, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the LORD, have spoken and have done it.” (Ezekiel 17:24).
It also means that everything will be renewed. God is determined to wipe the slate clean and begin all over again. Therefore, he says: “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19). Indeed, to enter the kingdom of God, every man has to begin all over again. Thus, Jesus tells Nicodemus: “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3).
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount turns everything on its head. It is the poor in spirit who are enriched by the inheritance of a kingdom more glorious than all the thrones on the earth. It is the meek who renounces self-aggrandisement who ends up by inheriting the earth. It is those who hunger and thirst after righteousness (and not earthly riches) who are filled.
Is God just determined to be disagreeable? Not so. We have to remember that his kingdom was the only kingdom. The kingdom of God preceded the kingdoms of this world. But the kingdom of God on earth was given to man to administer, and man ceded the dominion and authority to the devil as a result of sin.
So it was not God who decided to be contrary. It was the devil, the ruler of the darkness of this world, who was determined that everything about this world should be the antithesis of the kingdom of God. Therefore, “all that is in the world- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- is not of the Father but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16).
Look around you and you will see that the prevailing way of doing things in this world is ungodly. The policeman harasses innocent motorists in order to extort a bribe from them. The mechanic puts fake parts in a car. The pharmacist sells expired drugs. The armed-robber snatches cars. The civil-servant demands a bribe. The lecturer demands sexual gratification from his students. Without a doubt, the world around us is under Satan’s power and control. (1 John 5:19).
Therefore, know this for certain: if it is popular in the world, then it cannot be of God. It must be devilish. If Michael Jackson’s album “Thriller” was the highest selling album of all time, it must be because the devil approved of it. If Bruce Wilkinson’s book, “The Prayer of Jabez,” was such a runaway best-seller, it must be because its underlying principles are fundamentally ungodly. If Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of the Christ”, was so popular, it must be because it excites the flesh and not the spirit. That is how we get the darlings of the world, such as Jerry Springer, Eminem and J. K. Rowling.