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Welcoming Hatred for the Sake of the Name November 15, 2006

Posted by Joe in Random Musings, Scripture Meditation.
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Lar,

You asked a few questions at the end of your second post of the day (you are on a roll by the way) that I wanted to respond to before they were even asked. When dealing with such a verse (“and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake”), we have to get real don’t we? Well, I suppose we can conveniently read through such verses without reflecting upon them, but that won’t do us much good. It might allow us to remain comfortable in our comfortable, cruise-control, middle-class Christianity, but it sure won’t help us draw closer to Christ in deepest humility and receive the power that enables us to change the world.

I, for one, am tired of the ‘Christianity’ in vogue today and dissatisfied with how well I fit the mold. The call to come out from them and be separate (2 Cor. 6:17), might well apply today to coming out from the church culture that has been created in order to walk in something authentic, something real, something that is both radical and attractive (like Jesus!). Sadly, I don’t think we have enough models of the real thing–of what it means and looks like to follow Jesus. May the Lord grant us grace.

So about your questions. First, I have always taken, “be hated by all” to mean that we will be (or should be in some respect) hated by all kinds of people–rich and poor, influential and uninfluential, middle-class and lower-class, black and white. It doesn’t matter. If we truly follow Christ, there will be some in every strata of society that love us (b/c they follow Christ too) and some in every strata of society that hate us (b/c they hate the Jesus we follow). The kingdom reaches into every part of society. So it also serves to condemn people from every part of society and thus, bring their hatred. I am sure there is more, but that is the first thing that comes to mind.

Second, why don’t we see this happening to us? The question needs to be asked. If we are really following Jesus and living the kind of life that is pleasing to Him, how come we aren’t facing such hatred? I offer two answers.

1) We don’t face such hatred b/c we aren’t living the kind of radical lives that Jesus calls us to.

2) Answer number one is over-simplistic and needs some clarification.

Ok, so maybe that isn’t two answers, but I will clarify. The first verse that came to mind while reading your post was, “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). That was Jesus talking, just so everyone knows. And that is serious stuff. As far as I can tell from the life of Jesus and everyone who is found in the New Testament who followed Him, not everyone is going to like us. Indeed, there will be some who hate us if we are faithful. And those last four words are very important–if we are faithful. If everyone and their mom thinks we are great, we have to ask ourselves, am I really taking a stand for Jesus Christ in every relationship I have or do I water down the truth to some degree in order to be liked?

On top of that, I think another question is in order, namely, do I even have any real relationships with unbelievers or am I caught up in my own little Christian sub-culture world? Am I reaching out to the lost? Or do I just play it safe and remain in my church safe-house, so to speak? Ok, so that was three questions, but you know where I am going with this one. Who among us is honestly going to say that we are being faithful in every single conversation and relationship we have? You are deceiving yourself if you give such an answer. What about your neighbor who you have conversed with hundreds of times and all they know about you is that you go to church? What about the old high-school friend who you just saw, did you speak of anything but old times? The questions could go on and on. So often, we bear no reproach, b/c we take no risks in the sharing of the gospel.

Of course, that is not all. For the bearing of reproach comes down to more than sharing the gospel faithfully. It’s about the entire way you live your life. Does your life look foolish to those who hope in riches and earthly security or does it look the same (except with a little church)? The decisions you make: are they challenged by family and friends due to their ‘radicalness’ (which is really faithfulness we hope)? You know the drill. Let us ask ourselves the hard question: am I really living it? Then let us embrace the hard answer: “No, I am a people-pleasing, man-fearing, middle-class Christian coasting through the American life.” Then let us fall to our knees and plead with the Lord for grace.

Now, the thought just came to mind that some people might think that a little harsh. Well, I don’t think it is. It’s harsh compared to our mushy, don’t-hurt-my-feelings Christian sub-culture, but let’s let’s face it, if Jesus were around, He would be hurting our feelings everyday! Let’s toughen up and deal with the hard truth. I know I’m a ‘Christian’ wimp too often. Let’s get to know and deal with the real Jesus. “Woe to you when all people speak well of you.” If you can count on your hands the number of people who have a ‘beef’ with you, come on, get real, are you really unashamed of Christ?

Well, with that being said, my second ‘answer’ will be brief. I know my first answer was a bit over-simplistic. The fact that our country is a complete historical anomaly definitely has to play a role in something. We were founded on basic Christian principles (however watered down) and given a freedom to worship as we please. This is an incredible freedom that has shaped the way every single person in our nation deals with the claims of Christianity. This is absolutely unbelievable historically and must not be underestimated. Of course, things are changing. More and more people are hostile to the gospel message. However, throughout the history of our land, the work of the gospel has done a leavening work (in a good way). And this is exactly what is supposed to take place. Because of this, I believe we see less hatred.

Now, that is in no way meant to diminish our responsibility to bear faithful witness (which we have already confessed we have failed to do–at least I hoped you confessed that!). This is just to say that the country in which we live and the principles and people it was founded upon and by led to an atmosphere that many times made (and makes) people lukewarm to the gospel, rather than hostile to it. There is much more I now, but it had to be mentioned. Maybe we can dive in deeper another day. Let’s just consider both answers and repent and pray accordingly.

Repent–let us do so individually and corporately. Pray–let us do so individually and corporately, petitioning the Lord to send His Spirit to shake us from our lukewarmness and apathy and bring a gospel movement that will reshape this land for the glory of His name. And if you have am minute, pray for me.  Pray that the Lord might grant me deliverance from my weak, comfortable, everyone-please-like-me, American Christianity! Lord knows, I need grace!

Seeking Him with you,

Joe

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