Feb 24 2010
Accusation or compliment?
Sometimes Christians are labeled or accused with negative sounding language, but in reality that can be understood as a genuine compliment of an effective mininstry and witness for the LORD. We will look at five biblical examples …
Bible-believing Christians today face more and more accusations and charges by an increasingly secular culture. A Bible-believing Christian is sometimes accused of being a “right-wing extremist”. Liberal media have often tried to tarnish conservative Christians as “domestic terrorists”. Under the Clinton administration, Bible-believing Christians were viewed as “right-wing conspiracy” or “hate group”. When Christians speak the truth in love, the world misrepresents it as a “hate crime”. When Christians lovingly discipline their children, it is being misrepresented as “violence”. This, for example, is faulty logic. Violence, by definition, is destructive, but correction or discipline, by definition, amends, edifies and purifies. It is cosntructive. Christians who follow the commands of the Bible and adopt Christian manners are often accused of being “odd” or “strange”, esp. when they don’t have a television in their living room or do not participate an modern clothing fads that usually leave the body half-naked. Some Christians have actually been accused in lawsuits of “bizarre and erratic” behavior because they just wanted to lead a quiet and peacable life in all godliness and honesty (1. Tim. 2:1,2) and denied ungodliness and worldly lusts in order to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world (Titus 2:12).
But do you notice that all these accusations and charges are a blessing in disguise? Although Christians have become the target of such negative language, we should regard it as a compliment. We should not be downtrodden and defeated because of such language. Many times such accusations are really an indirect compliment to an effective witness and ministry for the Lord Jesus Christ. The Christian life is a good fight of faith and when accusations and even persecutions come then we should think of the apostles who rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus. Acts 5:41. Have you ever suffered shame for the name of Jesus? We should not suffer shame because we have done wrong or been guilty of evildoing. That is not what the Holy Ghost is saying in these scriptures, but it is part of the Christian life that a believer may suffer shame simply because of doing what is good in the sight of God.
Apostle Paul in Philippi
When Paul faithfully preached the gospel of the grace of God in Philippi, what was he accused of? A mob of outraged businessmen caught Paul and Silas and took them to court with the following accusation: These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. Acts 16:20,21.
Paul and Silas were beaten and then jailed, but they were not despondent, but rather prayed and sang God’s praises in jail. They did not commit any crime, but they had Jesus Christ in their heart and that made them different from their surrounding culture of paganism. Let’s make no mistake: modern American culture is a mess of paganism and sorcery. A Spirit-filled Christian is different from that culture. But mark what Paul and Silas were accused of:
- They troubled the city!
- They taught different customs!
Praise the Lord! That is a wonderful compliment. If a city is full of sin and pagan superstition, it is good when a Christian shows up and troubles it by the preaching and teaching of the word of God. It’s good when someone teaches Christian customs instead of condoning heathen manners! That does not mean that Chrisians should deliberately “cause trouble” but in such an environment as in Philippi just living honorably for the Lord will cause trouble because the gospel message itself will trouble the unbelievers. Paul did not deliberately cause trouble, but the effect of a gospel witness troubled the unbelievers. Would to God that sinful cities of today such as Las Vegas or San Francisco are going to be troubled by the preaching and teaching of the gospel and the holy conversation of those lives changed by the gospel. Look at the way modern society acts, talks and dresses and you will apprecaite it when a Bible-believers risks his neck and sacrifices to teach some diferrent customs. What a compliment to an effective ministry! The gospel was made known to the whole city and people were effectively taught the Bible, so that it made an impact on lives and even on the economy. Remember those businessmen in Philippi made lots of money with soothsaying (fortunetelling), but when people turned to God it was no longer possible to make profits with sin and superstition. That “gospel effect” is needed today to correct the economy.
The Gospel in Thessalonica
When the gospel was first preached in Thessalonica the Christians were again brought to court. This is what the unbelievers accused them of: These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; whom Jason has received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. Acts 17:6,7.
This is another indirect compliment to an effective ministry and witness for the LORD. Once again, Christians were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus. While the unbelievers were angry and outraged that these Christians “turned the world upside down”, we can rejoice that God opened many doors for the gospel to become known to so many people. The gospel was preached everywhere and made a noticeable impact on people’s lives. People changed! The fact that Christians were accused of doing contrary to the decrees of Caesar proves that those believers in Thessalonica lived holy, separated lives and placed their allegiance in Jesus Christ and not culture, tradition or government. Christians generally obey the law of the land, but in a serious conflict of conscience they obey God rather than man.
The Gospel: Not Good for Sinful Business
When the gospel was preached in Ephesus, many people got saved and forsook the pagan worship of the goddess Diana. As a result, those who earned their living by the manufacture of pagan devotionals suffered enormous losses. Once again, Christians were taken to court by an angry mob. What were the Christians and especially the missionary apostle Paul accused of? Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: so that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised. Acts 19:26,27.
Another accusation that really is a compliment. What sounds so negative is really something positive. This pagan silversmith involuntarily testifies that Christians were effective in reaching all of minor Asia with the gospel. The preaching of Christ led to the practical effect that people no longer regarded hand-made statues of pagan idols. They no longer believed in a god made with hands in the form of a statue, temple or devotional figurine. Rather, Christians believed in the invisible God who has made heaven and earth as the Creator of all things. I am thankful to God for those who are persuaded today of ther truth of the Bible. It is my prayer to God that the preaching of the gospel, the distribution of tracts, the Christian bumper sticker on the car or the availability of a Bible in a doctor’s waiting room will persuade people to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior and turn them away from sin. I am thankful for every soul that has been turned away from the false gods of materialism, Islam, superstition, astrology etc. I am glad for every soul that turns away from sin. Can you rejoice about that? However, if you dare to turn away from sin, some folks will turn around and call you “odd”, “strange” or complain about your “bizarre and erratic” behavior. But praise God, that confirms the reality of the power of God. 1. Pe. 4:3,4 tells us that some will think it strange that we as Bible believers no longer run with them to the same excess of riot. Don’t run with everybody (Psalm 1:1)! We just don’t want to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them. Eph. 5:11.
Lawsuit: Tried for being a Christian
At another court hearing a lawyer named Tertullus accused the apostle Paul of being “a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes: who also has gone about to profane the temple.” Acts 24:5,6. Do you notice all the negative terms ascribed to Paul and the Christian churches? “Pestilent … sedition … ringleader … sect.” The speech of secular accusers is often larded with negative words. Just think of negative language that is being employed against Bible-believing Christians today: “Cult … controlling … repressive … would-be Amish … weird … nuts … underling … forceful …” However, we can also understand the lawyer’s accusation as an indirect compliment. I thank God that Paul preached the gospel and it spread in marvelous ways. I thank God that many souls got saved and lives were amended. Paul was accused of sedition but he was not a church-splitter or a promoter of variance and sedition. Since the Jews at that time rejected Jesus Christ as their Messiah it was necessary for those who believed on Jesus Christ to be separate. The unity of the church was possible because believers separated from christless religion and worldly tradition. Faith in Christ does not make us better than others, but it makes us different from others simply because we receive the LORD whom others reject. That sets believers apart. It is very simple logic. As believers we should never allow ourselves to be discouraged by the accusations of the unbelievers but rather thank God for all the hidden compliments we are receiving.
Finally, we look at a situation where Paul testified in a hearing before Roman rulers. While he explained to them who Jesus is and what a sinner must do to be saved, Paul was interrupted by the loud words of Festus: Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. Acts. 23:24. Have you ever tried to explain to someone else what you believe and what the Bible teaches and that other person just responded: “You’re crazy.” Paul experienced that situation and even the Lord Jesus was accused multiple times of being crazy. But notice Paul’s reply to this accusation: I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. Acts 24:26. The context reveals that the other Roman ruler, king Agrippa, was under conviction because he was almost persuaded to become a Christian (Acts 24:28). When a Christian speaks with confidence of the Lord and the Holy Ghost is convicting people of their sin, some sinners want to evade that sense of guilt by just shrugging off the truth of the gospel by calling the Christian “crazy”, so they don’t have to take their word serious. If people can’t refute the message, they usually resort to attacking the messanger. Paul corrected the accusation and made it clear that what Festus deemed to be the result of madness is in reality the word of truth and soberness. A sober mind is the opposite of a crazy mind. Here you see the conflict in the good fight of faith: What the world calls “crazy”, “odd” or “bizarre” is soberness and truth to the believer. This conflict confirms the principle described in Proverbs 29:27: An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.
Do not be discouraged by the threatenings of a godless world. Do not lose courage when facing wrongful accusations because you are just trying to serve God and follow His commands. If you face accusations such as mentioned above, please sing the praises of God and thank him that you have been counted worthy of suffering shame for the name of Jesus. Understand that those accusations are nothing but indirect compliments to your ministry and witness for the LORD. Satan could steal Job’s family, friends, health and wealth. Nevertheless, Job overcame and his blessing was restored. There’s one thing that Satan cannot steal from you: the personal knowledge of God that you received when you got saved. Christ in you is the hope of glory.
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