Tuesday, February 14, 2017

No Surprise

"Stop marveling (cease wondering; quit being astonished) brothers, if (or: since) the ordered System (world of culture and religion; or: the estranged secular system of governmental control) is constantly hating you (habitually regarding you with ill will)." 1 John 3:13.

Opposition from the world's system was expected. What surprised John the Apostle was that some Christians anticipated something very different. A realist, John adopted neither a persecution nor a Pollyanna complex.

American Christians may protest: "Yes, but that was Rome. This is the U.S. We're a Christian nation!" Are we?

The only genuine "Christian" nation is the Kingdom of God. Political, religious, economic and cultural world systems, even the best intended and designed always conflict with God's rule and reign. The single common denominator that fouls them all up is...us. People are always the problem.

Believers interacting with all aspects of society can naturally exude a Godly influence, which will engender resistance. Nevertheless, we need to be that consistent example demonstrating that there's a better way to live...an alternate lifestyle.

Jesus wasn't delusional. He was hated, knew it and instructed His followers to expect the same. No one likes rejection. We have a whole industry dedicated to avoiding it: conferences, books, seminars, all chock full of techniques to learn how to make others like and accept us. Jesus faced the problem head on with the truth. His motive wasn't to shame or coerce people into accepting Him, but to demonstrate to them a new way to live that wouldn't disappoint.

Jesus wasn't put off by people who didn't automatically immediately embrace His teachings. His are radical and require a new mindset. Adopting them makes one weird, just like Him. Jesus got crucified for being counter-culture. Pain and suffering don't rank high on most people's priority lists.

Believers emulating Christ's character reminder those dependent on world based structures of the flimsy foundations they stand on. These systems never work. Programs designed to alleviate problems can force compliance, but never change hearts. Until that happens, a natural authoritarian but doomed to fail rule is necessary to maintain a semblance of order.

History and the Bible portray the interaction between Christians and the repressive Roman rule of their day. There were no demonstrations launched, no demands for rights voiced. However, their lives were so diametrically opposed to the surrounding culture that Romans couldn't help but take note.

One author described  dissonance based on sex and money. Romans were free with their sex and tight with their money. Christians gave generously of their resources and were stingy when it came to sex. They lived what they preached.

How about you? How do you react when your Christian values and beliefs are ridiculed? As an American, how does this conflict with the idea that the U.S. is a Christian nation? Should we be surprised as opposition to Christianity increases? How can living a Christ-like life impact our culture and society? Isn't the price to do so worth it?

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