A few years ago, friends invited me watch the Broadway musical, Wicked, when it came to Texas. However, I had a brand-new baby girl, and I couldn’t get away. But I happened to be in New York City a few weeks ago, and I got to see the show on Broadway. The musical, Wicked, is the alternate story about the witches from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Elphaba (The Wicked Witch of the West) was born with a deformity (green skin) and has succumbed to the ridicule of others all of her life. She befriends the popular Glinda (The Good Witch of the North) in school; and through crazy circumstances spawned by the lack of integrity of others, Elphaba is falsely accused and labeled “wicked” by the citizens of Oz.
Elphaba is constantly seeking the approval of others — though she denies it — and she’s daily conflicted by an inward battle between doing what she knows is right and doing what others expect of her. Finally, the deception of people she admires comes to the forefront, and Elphaba becomes a scapegoat because she won’t use her talents for their selfish gain. The entire city turns against her, and the people demand her destruction. But it is at the very moment when the world hates Elphaba that she finally finds freedom from their opinions.
I sat in the audience and watched as Elphaba soared through the air in blissful freedom as the people below cursed, judged and hated her. In that moment I saw a picture of what it means to live by faith. Christians must find freedom in God’s love, grace and peace because when we are obedient to His movements, the world will hate us. When the world sees Christ in us, they will persecute us. If we seek the world’s approval, we will never be able to fly into the abundance that He has for us.
I don’t think we can truly know how much we value the opinions of others until we are willing to be wickedly misunderstood by them. The world is controlled by the Enemy, and he hates us and would like nothing better than to watch us fall. Moreover, there are Christians who value religious expectations over the movement of God, and a life of faith might confuse, scare or even anger them. That is why we need to fix our eyes on God, follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit and live a radical life like Jesus lived.
I believe we all will find ourselves at a crossroad of doing what is expected and doing what God calls us to do. Our life will be filled with turmoil until we choose to follow the Holy Spirit or choose to be sedated by the world’s opinions. As I follow God’s leading into being misunderstood, I’m reminded not to judge, curse or hate the faith-walk of others. God wants His grace to be poured into all the desert places of the world, and I can’t comprehend the depth and width of His movement. But I trust that if a Christian is being persecuted, he or she must be doing something right.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.” – John 15.18-21 (NIV)