Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Model Citizen or Pariah?

How can a Christian be a model citizen and hated by the world at the same time?

15μὴ γάρ τις ὑμῶν πασχέτω ὡς φονεὺς ἢ κλέπτης ἢ κακοποιὸς ἢ ὡς ἀλλοτριο-επίσκοπος 16εἰ δὲ ὡς Χριστιανός μὴ αἰσχυνέσθω δοξαζέτω δὲ τὸν θεὸν ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ.
1 Peter 4:15-16

The following incident of public persecution of Christians was recently cited by a guest on one of the Moody Radio current affairs programs, broadcast on KJNP, Alaska, as evidence of how the upsetting, rising trend in global persecution of Christians is being mirrored here in America. Everyone on the show was aghast that, in this country, someone could air such bigoted sentiments in a room full of children and not be punished. They were all equally adamant that every Christian in the nation had to “get involved” politically to stop this type of thing from ever happening again.

Gay-rights activist Dan Savage, leader of the “It Gets Better” project, a campaign offering support and encouragement to young gays facing rejection and discrimination, gave a speech at a Seattle anti-bullying event that caused quite a stir in the Christian media. Some students, presumably Christian, walked out, offended by hostile remarks Savage made against the Bible and Believers. It was reported that a few of the nearly 100 students who left were visibly upset and “in tears”. Here’s what he said:
People often point out that they can’t help it, they can’t help with the anti-gay bullying, because it says right there in Leviticus, it says right there in Timothy, it says right there in Romans that being gay is wrong. We can learn to ignore the [lies]1 in the Bible about gay people
A short time later, Savage, knowing that the students had left because of the vitriol he’d slung at Christians generally, decided to sling some at them directly.
You can tell the Bible guys in the hall they can come back now because I’m done beating up the Bible. It’s funny to someone who is on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible how [cowardly]1 people react when you push back.
I have to say, I find the reactions of both those students who left in tears and those commentators on the radio far more disturbing than anything Savage said. He’s a godless fool; I wouldn’t expect him to think or say anything else. But for people who call themselves Christians to react with anything other than elation at verbal persecution, particularly innocuous persecution like Savage’s, is nothing short of shameful. What Bible have they been reading, I wonder? Have they never read James 1:2?
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations...
The word translated “temptations” is the Greek noun πειρασμός [peirasmos]. It means a trial or testing of your faith in Christ. It doesn’t mean a piece of chocolate cake dangled in front of you when you’re on a diet. The same word is translated “to try” in 1 Peter 4:12-14.
12Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy [are ye]; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
What kind of appallingly unsound doctrine have these Christians been taught? Don’t they know that unbelievers are supposed to hate us? That if they don’t, then we’re not being Christian enough? That it’s the mark of a Christian to suffer persecution for speaking and acting on the Lord’s behalf?
Isaiah 66:5: Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.

Matthew 10:22: And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Matthew 24:9: Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.

Mark 13:13: And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Luke 21:17: And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name's sake.
His name’s sake, or, simply, for His, the Son of Man’s, sake:
Matthew 5:11: Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Luke 6:22: Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you [from their company], and shall reproach [you], and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
Which is equivalent to “righteousness”:
Matthew 5:10: Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
We are to expect nothing but persecution from non-Christians. We aren’t supposed to be model citizens, as another talking head on Moody Radio put it, beloved and respected by all and sundry. We are to be hated for telling the truth and becoming more like Christ everyday. It’s called denying ourselves, taking up our crosses and following Him.
Luke 14:27: And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

Matthew 16:24: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Mark 8:34: And when he had called the people [unto him] with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Luke 9:23: And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Yeah, that’s right, we have to take up our crosses daily. We are to welcome suffering and persecution, not collapse in a heap of tears under it and then have our parents force the government to make all the bad boys stop and pretend to like us. We are not supposed to be model citizens; we are supposed to be pariahs.

Why else do you think God birthed us the second time while we were still in a world full of persecutors?

1. Expletive deleted. If you need to know exactly what he said, google it.


  1. I have a couple of comments:
    1. Often the persecution we Christians suffer is not for His name's sake, but because people have done things in His name that are shameful and ought not to ever have been attached to the name of our Lord Jesus. Persecuting homosexuals is one of those things - but don't be mistaken - I don't therefore believe that homosexuality is right - obviously the Bible makes that one clear - but holding the belief that it is wrong does not constitute persecution of homosexuals and I do not persecute people, nor do I try to have the government oppress them. When I am persecuted for believing the Bible and simply holding the belief that homosexuality is a sin, then I am being persecuted for His names sake. I know you know this Jim, but I wanted to clearly state it.
    2. I agree that it is un-Christian to whine about harsh treatment and the almost reflexive reaction here in the USA to run to government to fix things is also un-Christian - both are unbiblical - antithetical to the example of Yeshua.
    3. I want to be a model citizen because I want to be liked and be proud of myself and my contribution to society - to be perfectly honest this is far less about the professed 'witness to Jesus' in being a model, than it is about my own pride. Persecution does occur regularly and this will no doubt continue to increase, so I pray the Lord will help keep me on the path... personally I prefer to be liked than being a pariah (thanks for the definition - I really thought it meant something predatory - but no it doesnt) so I am always aware of the temptation to deny Him under pressure to be liked. Deliver me from this evil within me Lord.

  2. Thanks for the comments, Anon. 1. Agreed; 2. We western Xtians have to stop thinking we're living in "Christian countries" where it's ok to use the power of the state to enforce the Laws of God on the godless; 3. We are to be subject to the laws of men where they don't conflict with the Laws of God, but nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to stop speaking the Truth about Christ & His Gospel, the Resurrection, in order to be liked and get along.

    Oh, and pls allow me to add a personal "Amen!" to your prayer at the end.