1 Corinthians 4:12-13 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. 4:15-16 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
I have heard people say, “if we were really like Jesus, the world would love us”. I’ve heard that Mahatma Ghandi said “I like your Jesus. It’s Christians I don’t like”. I do believe that concept to be true – to an extent. I understand that there are Christians (including myself, unfortunately) that have turn people off to Christ through our actions done in the flesh. But many times I think quotes like these are a backdoor to soften our stance and our standards. Jesus Christ was a Rock of offense. He was a stumblingblock. He did come to bring division (I know John 17 – a great chapter that I love). The world didn’t love Him. And so I propose, if we’re like Christ, even in His love and His compassion, the world may not like us and our message, because it must be accepted to the exclusion of the world’s.
However (and I am going to sound oxymoronic here) – when we are reviled, and when we are persecuted, and when we are defamed for God and the positions we take in Christ – there is something the world cannot deny, and something that will prick their conscience and work in their heart. And when they walk away, they cannot forget it. This was exemplified by Christ and emulated by Paul. There are two words that will draw the balance we need as we stand for right, and yet seek to change the world and gain the lost. Those two words are Love and Meekness. When men defamed Paul, he intreated (prayed for) them. When men reviled (the Greek word means to villify, and to abuse), Paul blessed them. And Christ told us to do the same. Pray for them. Bless them. Do good to them. Love them.
I’m ok with people defaming us for our doctrine and our stand. That won’t change who I am and what I stand for. They can condemn the message as narrow minded and exclusive. That’s ok. That won’t change me. If the message drives them away, and I wish it didn’t, I must understand it has happened and will happen again. But here’s where love and meekness comes in – if it’s my position they don’t like, I must be ok with that. But if it’s my disposition they don’t like, I must take an honest assessment and ask, in my stand, am I emulating Christ, like Paul did?
Let’s stand firm in our position, but let us evaluate our disposition today and ask, “am I like Christ in my disposition?”