As the year comes to a close, we’re sharing our ten most viewed blog posts of 2012. Here’s #9…
“Don’t be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation—just because you believe in me. Don’t be upset when they haul you before the civil authorities. Without knowing it, they’ve done you—and me—a favor, given you a platform for preaching the kingdom news! And don’t worry about what you’ll say or how you’ll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words.”
“When people realize it is the living God you are presenting and not some idol that makes them feel good, they are going to turn on you, even people in your own family. There is a great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate! But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end. It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors! Before you’ve run out of options, the Son of Man will have arrived.
“A student doesn’t get a better desk than her teacher. A laborer doesn’t make more money than his boss. Be content—pleased, even—when you, my students, my harvest hands, get the same treatment I get. If they call me, the Master, ‘Dungface,’ what can the workers expect?
“Don’t be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don’t hesitate to go public now.
“Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.
Matthew 10:17-28 (MSG)
But before any of this happens, they’ll arrest you, hunt you down, and drag you to court and jail. It will go from bad to worse, dog-eat-dog, everyone at your throat because you carry my name. You’ll end up on the witness stand, called to testify. Make up your mind right now not to worry about it. I’ll give you the words and wisdom that will reduce all your accusers to stammers and stutters.
“You’ll even be turned in by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. Some of you will be killed. There’s no telling who will hate you because of me. Even so, every detail of your body and soul—even the hairs of your head!—is in my care; nothing of you will be lost. Staying with it—that’s what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved.
Luke 21:12-19 (MSG)
“If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you.
“When that happens, remember this: Servants don’t get better treatment than their masters. If they beat on me, they will certainly beat on you. If they did what I told them, they will do what you tell them.
“They are going to do all these things to you because of the way they treated me, because they don’t know the One who sent me. If I hadn’t come and told them all this in plain language, it wouldn’t be so bad. As it is, they have no excuse. Hate me, hate my Father—it’s all the same. If I hadn’t done what I have done among them, works no one has ever done, they wouldn’t be to blame. But they saw the God-signs and hated anyway, both me and my Father. Interesting—they have verified the truth of their own Scriptures where it is written, ‘They hated me for no good reason.’
“When the Friend I plan to send you from the Father comes—the Spirit of Truth issuing from the Father—he will confirm everything about me. You, too, from your side must give your confirming evidence, since you are in this with me from the start.”
John 15:18-27 (MSG)
Each passage of Scripture referenced above represents wisdom Jesus imparted to his apostles at critical times in their ministry. The passage from Matthew 10 represents Jesus” marching orders before the apostles left for their first “mission trip” without him. His teaching in Luke occurred in Jerusalem during the cascade of events leading to his trial and crucifixion. The passage in John was from Jesus’ teaching in the Upper Room on the night before his death. Jesus is eminently clear in his communication. If we as Christians identify with Jesus, seek to do His will and work to expand His Kingdom, we can expect others will…
- Seek to destroy our reputation
- Attempt to intimidate us and silence us
- Use government authorities to try to stop us
- Hate us
I became a big fan of Chick-fil-A (especially the chicken biscuits) during regular trips to the South last decade. The food was great, but the people I met who were involved with even more impressive. The excellence with which they seek to serve their customers is an outgrowth of their faith.
As I thought about the situation with Chick-fil-A this past week, it occurred to me that it’s not really about Chick-fil-A, or even the topic in question. It’s about Jesus…and His Word. Allow me to put on my psychiatrist’s hat and share my formulation…
The “elephant in the living room” in our ongoing culture wars is that Jesus, Christianity and the teachings of Scripture make some people very, very uncomfortable. After all, if Jesus is who He says He is and if the Bible is what it claims to be (the inerrant Word of God), a response is demanded of each of us. God’s standard is PERFECTION. NONE of us are capable of meeting the standard on our own. Recognition of our own inadequacy to save ourselves and the desire to receive God’s grace and forgiveness lead us, through faith, to acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord. We then seek to be obedient to Him and embark upon a process in which our actions and desires over time become aligned with his desires. But some people aren’t ready to go there.
So…how does one cope with the anxiety that results when confronted by the claims of Christianity if you’re not willing to submit to Christ? People use defense mechanisms… unconscious psychological strategies designed to protect the mind from anxiety and respond to situations in which the individual would otherwise be unable to cope.
Examples of defense mechanisms include projection…undesirable thoughts or behaviors in oneself are attributed to someone else. Example…Christians who publicly endorse “traditional values” are “hate-filled,” “bigoted” or “mean-spirited.”
Rationalization…making excuses. We can’t be held responsible for patters of behavior that are “genetic” in nature.
Our suffocating culture of political correctness represents a group attempt to create a culture in which expression of opposing views is unacceptable because exposure to such views could result in some experiencing distress. In my experience, the folks most likely to be insulated from any divergent thinking are those who work in academia. The value of moral relativism has been elevated above all others in that culture.
The greater the threat an individual perceives in their environment and the greater their unresolved anxiety, the more tenaciously they’ll cling to their defense mechanisms. Think of the religious and political leaders in Jesus’ time. They were VERY threatened by Jesus’ claims and His repeated demonstrations of their ineffectiveness and hypocrisy. So how are we to respond?
Jesus prepared his apostles…and us…for what we’re likely to face.
First, if you don’t want people to hate you, don’t be intentional about living out your faith in front of others. If you stand for nothing and don’t ever say or do anything that reflects the character of Jesus, you’ll be left alone. You won’t be “de-friended” on Facebook. You’ll also fail to fulfill your purpose in living. You represent Jesus, you deal with the garbage He dealt with. Don’t believe me. Check out the words above in red. He said so.
Second, we shouldn’t be out looking to start arguments with other people, but we need to be prepared when the opportunity arises to give a reason for the hope we have in Jesus. Dan Cathy from Chick-fil-A wasn’t out trying to provoke those who support changing the traditional definition of marriage in an interview with Biblical Reporter and during a radio program hosted by the MC of the Catalyst Conference. Jesus always treated those outside of the organized Jewish religious hierarchy with sensitivity and grace. We need to as well. Those of us who advocate and care for kids with disabilities and their families have the opportunity to be “light” to folks within academic medicine and the therapeutic community who may rarely come in contact with colleagues who are Christ-followers. The manner in which we conduct ourselves can go a long way in undermining the construct leaders of culture would seek to perpetuate of Christians…hate-filled, uneducated and narrow-minded.
An unintended benefit of the current controversy involving Chick-fil-A is that many more people are now aware of the witness of the Cathy family and God has been honored.And I have no doubt their restaurants will have MORE customers as a result.
Finally, Jesus has our back. If we put ourselves forward on his behalf, submit to his will and seek to be about his work, the Holy Spirit will give us the words we need when problems arise. He also reminds us that our ultimate well-being is in His hands…not those who hate him.
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