Back in Old Testament times, there were people who claimed to speak for God to the people. Because they craved popularity and didn’t want to cause offence, they tailored their message to please the populace. They were false prophets. Meanwhile, the true prophets often spoke uncomfortable words which upset people. They were never going to win any popularity contests.
And so Jesus warns against cheap popularity seeking. Some people will say or do just about anything in order to stay in others’ good books. They will change their opinions according to the company they might be keeping. The truth of our faith matters less than our personal reputation.
But it is possible to take this too far. Some may go out of their way to court controversy. They are combative, argumentative. Their personality and approach is such that people do get upset at them. And their response is to point to the so called offence of the gospel when all the time it is their own offensiveness that is the issue.
We are to be lights to the world and so can expect some signs of approval from others as we seek to do good to them at the same time, we recognise that darkness hates the light and so no matter how much good we seek to do, it may not result in widespread popularity. Our aim is not to become popular or unpopular. Our aim is to be true to our faith and let the chips fall where they may.