Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. —Hebrews 13:13
Going outside the camp means to leave the traditional structures or establishment, the way of thinking that is common to you and your friends (or enemies), and even the people who may be hopelessly conservative. It is leaving them behind, and that is a painful thing to do. Those Hebrew Christians probably had it much tougher than anything you or I will have to endure. They broke from an ancient tradition that preceded them by over 1,300 years; they were also outnumbered by tens of thousands of Jews who stuck with the traditional way of worship. Talk about leaving your comfort zone! They really did this, and those who went outside the camp lost all credibility.
It hurts when people no longer believe in you: they do not trust you, and you have lost credibility with them. But Jesus has been there, too. In the early part of John 6, Jesus had to escape the crowds because they were determined to make Him king (vv. 14-15), but in the end they didn’t believe in Him at all (v. 66)! Jesus lost credibility in their eyes.
What causes us to lose credibility will largely be what we believe and those with whom we associate. When what we believe is unfamiliar territory to our friends, they quietly tiptoe away, and we wake up one day with the realization that these people aren’t behaving the same way toward us.
God has an amazing way of causing us to lose credibility in order to get our attention and make us want His opinion. When everyone believes in us and wants to “crown” us, it is not so easy to value God’s approval of us. But when they back away and distance themselves from us, we are more likely to seek the praise that comes only from Him. He allows situations and circumstances to develop in such a way that drives us to our knees to seek His face.
Excerpted from Pure Joy (Charisma House, 2006).