Christianity 201

May 16, 2016

Which Crowd Speaks Well of You?

Once again we’re paying a return visit to Done With Religion by Michael Donohoe. I really liked the insights here. To read this at source or leave a comment for the author, click the title below.

When All Speak Well of You… Did I Have It Wrong?

Have you ever questioned some of the things you were taught in church? I have been questioning a lot recently, but a couple verses have been on my mind and I am wondering if I may have been taught wrong or misinterpreted what is really meant. The verses are as follows:

Luke 6:22 Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.

I was taught this verse was talking about living as a Christian witness in front of non-believers and how that would upset them. They would insult you and say you were evil because you followed Christ.

The other verse is Luke 6:26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.

I was told this meant that I was not living as a good Christian witness. All non-believers would speak good things about me because I was just like them. I was not living my Christian witness strong enough, pointing out their sins and mistakes. Living like them meant it caused no guilt on their part because I was not being a good Christian example.

The Religious or Non-Believers?

I have come to think I was told wrong about these two verses. I wonder, could it be that these verses are actually talking about religious people rather than non-believers?

When we read about Jesus and how he lived while here on earth, I see something different from what I was taught about living a Christian life. Jesus loved the people who most religious people would not want to be around. I was always told I had to separate myself and stay away from non-believers. I should be ready to point out why they were wrong and that they were on the way to hell if they did not change their ways. This is not to say all these people were wrong or terrible people, but in the eyes of other christian people they were wrong. Neither does this consider the verse saying the Holy Spirit will convict the world and draw others to the Father. It is not our job to convict and condemn, but to love.

Funny, I just do not see Jesus condemning and staying away from anyone. Jesus loved all people, even those that religion tells me to stay away from. When Jesus spent his time around the people the religious people wanted nothing to do with, He was hated, insulted and called evil… the religious people.

Just maybe when men speak well of us, it may not be non-believers. Maybe this is talking about the religious people speaking well of us because we are just like them, religious, condemning, relying on good works and fulfilling the law, and isolating ourselves from the people they thought were evil. Maybe when we want to spend time with those the religious try to avoid, it makes the religious crowd mad and they will be calling us evil. That’s what they did to Jesus, so we can expect the same.

1 Comment »

  1. You have raised two separate points. The first is the issue of people speaking good of ill of you and the second is separation from the world.
    When Jesus spoke the words in Luke 6 He was speaking to a collection of people of the Jewish faith. As you know the Pharisees and Jewish leaders did not accept His message. In a sense, they were the “church” of the day. The key to both of the verses to which you refer is the phrase “for Jesus’ sake.” That is, the Lord is referring to the testimony that the believer offers in word and deed and the way that it is accepted. It can apply both to the church and to non-believers.
    Jesus said that He did not come into the world to bring peace. He stated, “Do you think that I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” (Luke 16:51, NIV) The gospel of Christ is not inclusive of all people. One must make a commitment. There are those who will hate, ostracize, insult, and scorn you because you are being Christ in the world. This happens because your belief or message is not something that they want to accept. You are called to be different and difference ‘distinguishes’ people. That difference may be in relation to non-believers or it may be in regards to those who identify themselves with the Christian church, just as Christ distinguished His message from the “church” or religious system of His day. When a distinguishing takes place, pride often follows and pride destroys.
    In the verses that you quote, Jesus was offering blessings to those who suffered or would suffer because of His message or for His sake. There will be some religious people who will reject the message of Christ and they will hate, ostracize, because of the truth. You must be sure that the message that you offer is the truth, however. Those who present a false message are deceivers and caution needs to be taken concerning them. Your answer is that the true believer might be persecuted by non-believers or by deceived “religious” people and Jesus is really addressing both.
    Of course there are serious consequences for those who do not display a difference because they are of Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 reveals that serious judgment will befall them.
    The issue of separation is a little different. Mature believers should NOT separate themselves from the world. They are to be salt and light to the world. Salt only has value when it is placed on or in something. Parents worry about their children, however. Those who are young and without a well developed faith are susceptible to the influences of those around them. Those of weak faith might be best to separate themselves from the world to a certain degree. It is interesting that during the Exodus, the LORD could have led the Israelites along a short route to Canaan but the route was filled with dangers. Instead He took them on a longer but safer journey. He said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” (Exodus 13:17) The weaker need to be protected and both parents and the church want to limit access to dangers that might destroy weak faith. Faith has to be built and no one should be put in a situation beyond which their faith can sustain them.
    In my opinion there are a lot of misunderstandings or misrepresentations in Bible teaching and they include law and works as you have mentioned. The loving thing is to mutually seek truth with humility. It is the mandate of church leaders to prepare God’s people for works of service…until we all reach UNITY in the faith. (Ephesians 4:12-13)
    The Lord’s teaching on being reviled should not be accepted as resulting from the manner in which we present truth but in the issue of truth itself. We are called to be loving. In fact, we are called to allow Christ to live through us both to the world and to the church.

    Comment by Russell Young — May 18, 2016 @ 11:48 am | Reply

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