Who was the first person called righteous in the Bible?
What happened to him?
His brother killed him.
Because Abel’s righteousness was respected by God, and Cain’s was not.
Who persecuted Isaac?
Ishmael, his brother (born after the will of the flesh, rather than God’s will).
Who was closest to God of Jacob’s sons?
What happened to him?
His brothers plotted to kill him, instead stripped him, told his father that he was dead, and sold him into slavery.
What happened to David? Least esteemed of his brothers. Persecuted by king Saul, why? Because God had rejected Saul and chosen David.
See a pattern? Fast forward to Stephen minutes before he was stoned to death by his own people, the chosen people. “You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? and they killed them that showed before of the coming of the Righteous One; of whom you have now become betrayers and murderers;” (Acts 7:51-52).
Even among God’s people–or more specifically, the ones who ought to have been God’s people–the ones who deliver the message of God are hated. But there seems to be a growing part of the church concerned about how it is viewed on things like homosexuality and religious tolerance in the church. Why?
Because it’s compassionate.
Says who? Did God say somewhere in his word that it was compassionate to equate loving the Son of God who died for the sins of the world with serving another god? Is it uncompassionate to call adultery sin? Is it uncompassionate to call unforgiveness sin? It is uncompassionate to call pedophilia sin?
If we can’t testify what sin is, what exactly are we telling the world it needs a savior for?
I’d challenge you that what is being bantered about as compassion is really, self-centeredness. If I let your sin go, you let mine go, ok? The unwillingness to identify sin is to trample on the grace of God–what you forgave wasn’t even a sin… And it is an act of cowardice on our part. You think I like calling sin sin? No! I know it makes me unpopular and uncool, backwards. It drives division over things that seem like they can go by the wayside. Do you think I personally “get” why eating pig is an abomination to God? Not really, of myself I’d say “It’s a small thing.” I’d like to brush over it, but the truth behind that temptation is I simply don’t want to take the effort to witness and try to change someone, and I don’t want to be vulnerable to ridicule and unpopularity. My natural bent is popularity like anyone else.
“But I don’t see how it’s important!” We say, or “I don’t think God meant that part!” “What does it matter to God who sleeps with who? Or who prays to who?” There are people who say what’s the big deal with responsible smoking? Responsible, safe sex outside of a covenant between two consensual adults, what’s the big deal? I mean even if you have a couple married people and as long as the spouse knows and is “ok” with it, what harm can it do to sleep around a little? What harm is there in visiting a willing prostitute? What’s the big deal with a 20oz soda or a tanning bed for my kid? Who does suicide hurt?
Ask people about those and you won’t get natural agreement on which of those is important or what’s right. Believe it or not, imperfect people are sometimes confused about right and wrong. That’s why God gave us his Word.
So since we can’t seem to find a universal gut moral code, why do we expect that we should “get” everything God tells us? Why is baptism important? Why is corporate worship important? We aren’t going to know it all, and maybe that’s because the answers are more than the digital categories we can comprehend.
The fact that God gave us any commands tells us we won’t always see clearly what is right (at least until his work is complete). And telling us we don’t know and do what is right inherently creates conflict. Therefore, this compassion that seeks to just accept everything is in direct contradiction to the body of teaching from God for thousands of years. Why all the stories? Why all the prophets, if people were fine the way they were? Why a Messiah?
And we reject was is obvious truth on the basis of . . . what? What is the evidence to Christians urging us to throw away everything that has come before? That it’s popular and it feels right. Is there another reason?
Have you watched the stuff that comes out of Hollywood lately? I’ve seen films where the protagonist, the one we’re suppose to empathize with (com/with + passion/feeling = compassion), is a bootlegger who cuts a man’s balls off. I saw another where the protagonist was a armed robber/complicit murderer who turns around as a way of atoning turns a couple mobs against each other, then takes the stolen loot and instead of turning it to the family of the guard who got killed, he gives it to his fellow thief’s widow. I can point to films that tell us if you’re lonely it’s ok to cheat on your wife. If you’re hurt it’s ok to pursue vengeance. I don’t know any person in any way of life, that I cannot feel for.
This idea that identifying with someone in sinful behavior makes it no longer sin is in direct contradiction to the whole of our faith. How can there be sin at all? The logical analysis is that you can only see sin in someone you already hate or don’t have compassion for. Which makes perfect sense because how many times have you heard, “I used to be against ____ but then I realized my (relation) was that way, and then I understood that …” Rather than being compassionate, it declares hypocrisy because the only fault it finds is with someone who doesn’t touch your life.
And what does that make of the sacrifice of Yeshua if there really is no sin? In one notion, we have robbed God of the glory of his compassion and sacrifice, and at the same time lied to ourselves. Raise your hand if there is not some darkness in your life that you want to be freed from. I hear over and over, “I hate this about myself, but I can’t change.” That is the message of the world’s compassion, you are the way you are with no hope of change.
God says no. You’ve wandered into darkness, and if you want out, I’ll do anything to bring you to the light.
His is the compassion of a true parent who says “I love you too much to let something stand in the way of you becoming who you were meant to be . . . even yourself” vs. the compassion of the friend who says “I know its rough and that’s why you binge drink, but just know I’m there for you.” The parent is willing to be hated to do what is best.
We must understand, the love of God is evident to the world but that doesn’t mean they will like it. Even the church does not like it. But it is God’s way. How much conflict do you see in the bible that God could have avoided? How many times could God simply have “gone along to get along”? Why did every prophet’s ministry talk about turning around? It all goes to God is not satisfied to leave us where we are. And frankly, look at the world, are you satisfied? If we’re all so great, so innately good, then there’s an awful lot evil that needs explaining, God has nothing to offer, and this is as good as its going to get. Please kill me now.
What is the result of all this? What am I trying to say to the church other than that God’s view of compassion is different than the vogue one? Realize that God’s love stands in opposition to the world’s and the world’s to his. We say, we need to soften our message and remove the sin talk. Our problem is marketing. Well let me remind you of something that hopefully you already know.
“…the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his works should be reproved.” (John 3:19-20).
Did Yeshua have a marketing problem? Was he just too harsh? Cause correct me if I’m wrong, but they stripped him naked, beat him till he bled, pulled out his beard, stuck a crown of thorns in his scalp, and hung him on a cross to die in front of everyone. Yeah . . . it’s the marketing that the world hates.
Let’s put this back into understanding of what being a Christian means:
Mat 5:11 Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Mat 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.
Mat 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up unto tribulation, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all the nations for my name’s sake.
Mar 13:13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.
Joh 7:7 The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that its works are evil.
1Jn 3:13 Marvel not, brethren, if the world hateth you.
Joh 15:23-25 He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word may be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
God’s people may not always deliver the message in love. I’m not even saying we need to go tell the world it’s sins. The world knows it has sin, that’s why there’s so much depression, frustration, etc… They’re own hearts tell them that. Come to God as you are. God doesn’t care, and I do my best not to care, if your gay, communist, democrat, rich, poor, even republican. I don’t care if you crawled through a sewer. I don’t care if you come in a skimpy outfit or no outfit at all. But you come to God because you want help, and help means change.
Who I’m talking to is the church. It doesn’t matter what the world does or believes, we don’t have to shove it in their face, but we do have to testify to the truth. You can come in as you are, but God’s going to change you and he’s going to use us as part of it. We screw up, God knew that when he gave us the job. That’s why it’s the Spirit who convicts. Our job is to do it in love, yes, but that doesn’t mean the world is going to like it. God doesn’t have a marketing problem, the audience has a sin a problem. If you call it sin, they will hate you.
So at some point, as your doctrine, as you Christianity starts to be more and more popular. As your goals become more like the world’s. As your persecution drops away. You have to ask yourself, are you following Messiah?
Do your beliefs testify that the world’s way is sin? Are you willing to be hated for Christ’s sake?
Messiah didn’t get crucified because he had a different tradition. He didn’t get crucified because he told us to love our neighbor. He didn’t get crucified because he misspoke. He was crucified because he told the world it had sin.
When we as Christians stop calling sin “sin” and become more popular with the world, we stop following Christ.