Opinions on faith and life

Negativity

2002-01-01

Many people today, religious or not, Christian or not, firmly believe that proselytizing is harsh, offensive, and worst of all, negative. Negativity is the now the buzzword for hatefulness and narrow-mindedness. Christians harshly (and therefore hypocritically!) condemn other Christians who dare to point out the fact that sinners are sinners. But what is our example from Scripture?

Many passages of scripture show that the preaching of the Gospel is inherently negative. People must be convinced of their sinful, hopeless condition before they are ready to receive the Gospel. Peter’s first public sermon was one of condemnation and finger pointing, not peace and love. Later, Paul publicly scolded Peter. For what, being negative? No, for ecumenism! Peter was trying to blend in, get along, not make waves.

The blind can’t see the Way; sin recoils from the Truth; the dead don’t understand the Life; evil runs from the Light. It should come as no surprise that sinners cannot tolerate being told there’s a problem with their soul, way of life, or belief system. But Jesus does not call us to be popular or successful, just faithful. How the message is received is not the believer’s concern. Look at God’s “witness” to Cain in Genesis 4:7. Cain rejected the “proselytism” of God Himself! The hearer is solely responsible for his or her reaction to the Truth.

We must not become fearful of the world. Jesus said that he will be ashamed of anyone who is ashamed of him and his words. “Fear God rather than men!” Too many Christians are afraid to stick our necks out, rock the boat, make waves. The world demands peace at any price, but we must not be sucked into the world’s vortex. If the Christianity we practice is palatable to the lost, then we’re doing something wrong.

The message of the Gospel has been watered down to the point of becoming some kind of “holistic religion”. A mere vapor of the original message is all we offer people. We think we are offering a cure, but when nothing happens we say, “Just give it more time”. Yet Jesus said he would come at a time when we do not expect him (Matt. 24:44). The time is short, the hour is late. What will we say to the condemned on Judgment Day, when they demand to know why we only gave them a drop of water when they were dying of thirst? “I didn’t think you could handle it”? “I was afraid you wouldn’t like it”? “I didn’t want to be persecuted”? Will we “hide our Master’s money in the ground” (Matt. 25:24-30) instead of putting it to work out in the world?

Although the context here is ’tongues’, look at 1 Cor. 14:7-9: “Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.” Is the church today sending a clear signal? Do the lost really know what they’re being called to?

Are You Salty?

Matthew 5:10-16

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Col. 4:5

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

2 Cor. 2:14-16

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.

2 Timothy 3:12

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

1 Peter 4:3-5

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do— living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

1 Peter 4:12-19

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Rev. 3:15-16

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm— neither hot nor cold— I am about to spit you out of my mouth.