Those who are worthy of Jesus are not citizens of the world, and the world knows this.
That is, the world knows its own, and it knows that Jesus is not one of its own.
The world also knows how to test those who say they belong to Jesus. In this way, the world understands His message better than a lot of Christians who are trying to preach it to the world.
“If you believe what you yourself say,” the world correctly reasons, “then you won’t offer this pinch of incense to our gods.”
The world does not require fidelity to its own gods, at least not when fidelity would be inconvenient. It merely requires infidelity to any god opposed to its own gods. Rail all you want against the world; as long as the world knows you don’t really mean it, you’ll be welcomed as a fellow citizen of the world. The world has a special place in its heart for hypocrites.
The Christian is at a disadvantage before the world. The world is not only rulemaker, opponent, referee, and scorekeeper; it’s also the playing field, home town crowd, and teammate.
And when you think of it, what’s a pinch of incense anyway? It’s just something people do and think no more about. If a pinch of incense – offered, needless to say, with full mental reservation – is what it takes to live a quiet life, go to church, raise your children in the Faith as best you can, witness to the world as best you can, then that’s what it takes. Surely God understands… if, that is, there’s even anything to understand in this business that’s no big deal, that everyone does, that’s perfectly consistent with the Faith, that only fanatics would complain about.
But the world, shrewd as a snake, knows better. And God knows better. And so should His people, the disciples of His Son. The Christian should be wise as a serpent, not to become one himself, but to overcome them all.