'Is hostility towards our church by the lost due our faithfulness or unfaithfulness?

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Jon 316

Puritan Board Sophomore
More specifically the question is...

'Is the rejection of our church by the surrounding community purely on account of our faithfulness to Christ or have we added offense to the gospel in some way?'

The question arrises from the thread dealing with the Free Church and the Scottish Highlands but was too long to post in the heading.

http://www.puritanboard.com/f47/i-went-wee-free-while-holiday-47029/

A relevant scripture to underpin the discussion perhaps is

Rom 2:17 Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, 18 and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. 21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,”[c]


My concern in this discussion is not to

1) Say that Free Church and similar groups are all dead religious and hypocritical
2) Ignore the fact that faithfulness to Christ can breed hostility among the lost
3) Ignore the fact that other denominations have Christians who 'let the side down'

It is however to deal with the issue

If a large part of the surrounding community reject a local church and have bad feelings towards it on the basis of the actions and attitudes of the local church as a unit, is this not an indication that something is wrong with the local church?
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
John 15:18,19 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

Hatred from the world is evidence that a church is 'Christlike'.

Is it the community of other churches that you are concerned about? Or the world?
 

BJClark

Puritan Board Doctor
are they being hypocritical or are they merely following Biblical commands to separate themselves from one who refuses to repent of their sin?

If the lost do not understand the Matthew 18 commands, then we ignore them or take the time to explain it to them..

And no, it's not always something is wrong within the local church, it could merely be, the local community does not understand the ways of Christ...and how the church is to deal with discipline within it's own body...
 

JonathanHunt

Puritan Board Senior
The lost will always hate the church even if it was absolutely perfect, because they are lost, by definition, and love darkness rather than light.

That said, as has already been noted, those around us should only have cause to hate us for the gospel we proclaim, not because we are unfriendly, aloof, etc.
 

21st Century Calvinist

Puritan Board Junior
Josh beat me to it, but I would say the answer is Yes.
Now, if the world hates us because of our faithfulness to Christ and our whole-hearted commitment to him then that is indeed a sign of the world's sin and it's hatred towards Jesus Christ.
However, sometimes the church is despised not because of her faithfulness to Christ but because she has failed to be Christlike in her life and witness in this world. Unbelievers are everywhere watching and waiting for the church to slip and fall. The hypocrisy radar, when it comes to the church at any rate, is very sensitive in non believers. Once the damage has been done, it can take generations to repair the offense that has been caused.
I would love to hear of how we can avoid unnecessarily offending the communities that we serve and how we can be a blessing to them so that even the unbelievers will be led to praise our Father in Heaven because of us.
 

Jon 316

Puritan Board Sophomore
John 15:18,19 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

Hatred from the world is evidence that a church is 'Christlike'.

QUOTE]


Hatred of the world can be an evidence that the church is christlike, however hatred by the world is not a guarantee that the church is Christlike. Hatred can also be caused by hypocracy and judgementalism and pride. It would be dangerous to assume that because a Christian or a church is being hated by the world that it is primarily due to the fact he is a Christian. It could simply be because he is arrogant proud and aloof. Thus his unchristlikeness is the cause of offense and reason for the worlds hatred.
 

jambo

Puritan Board Senior
The non-Christian hates the church because it hates the church's Saviour. The unsaved hates the christian because of his witness and stand for the truth. The non-Christian hates the church because the word the church proclaims sheds light on man's darkness, and men hate any sort of moral light let alone spiritual light.

That said Paul's instruction to Timothy (1 Tim 3.7) is that the elder must have a good reputation with those outside of the church. This does not say he must be loved or liked by ousiders but have a good reputation in business, conduct, speech, attitude etc. I have often found that non-Christians may hate Christians but they respect them for standing up for what they believe and being consistant in what they believe, what they say and what they do.

There is the world of a difference between a Christian who is hated yet respected and the Christian who is hated and not respected because of inconsistancies. Sadly I have heard so many non-Christians say that they are not Christians because of the way a Christian businessman treated them in the past.

This is a real shame and it angers me that this has been an all too common occurance. But just because there is one crooked doctor it does not mean all doctors are crooked. Likewise the church; just because one Christian or one elder or one pastor has been hypocritical, immoral or inconsistant it does not mean all are. Look to the master rather than the servants.

When we cause offence, we must be sure it is because it is the offence of the gospel rather then unsanctified, unloving behaviour causing offence.

Bunyan depicts it so graphically when he brings the pilgrims through Vanity Fair. Their clothing was different, their speech was different, their values were different, and what they desired, truth, could not be purchased in the fair. Our white robes of Christ's righteousness are so different to the filthy rags of the worldy. Our speech is not rude and blasphemous but gracious and seasoned with salt. Our values are not the selfish, immoral values of the world and as we all know truth is found nowhere but in Christ and his word.
 

christianyouth

Puritan Board Senior
The lost will always hate the church even if it was absolutely perfect, because they are lost, by definition, and love darkness rather than light.



I've always heard this, but I now question it. What makes us think that that the portions of scripture that make clear that the Christians will be hated and suffer persecution are applicable for all time? I mean, the sociological conditions have changed over time. In the early centuries, Christians did suffer that type of persecution that is described in the Bible, but later on in history, not so.

Think about the medieval era, where it wasn't Christians that were suffering persecution, it was non-Christians who were suffering persecution at the hands of the 'Christian' societies.

Or there is Geneva under Calvin, early America as founded by the Puritans, and I'm sure many more examples from history could show us that Christians were not always hated and persecuted.



So why do we take those passages in scripture, that could easily have been talking just to early Christians under their own unique cultural conditions, and apply them to Christians at all times, even when history shows that Christians haven't been hated and persecuted all times and at all places?
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
John 15:18,19 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

Hatred from the world is evidence that a church is 'Christlike'.


Hatred of the world can be an evidence that the church is christlike, however hatred by the world is not a guarantee that the church is Christlike.

But your question was, "If a large part of the surrounding community reject a local church and have bad feelings towards it on the basis of the actions and attitudes of the local church as a unit, is this not an indication that something is wrong with the local church?"

Your own answer proves that the 'feelings' of the world toward the church are not necessarily an indication that something is wrong. It could mean that something is very right.

It is conceivable that the world could have justifiable hatred for a church. A group of pugnacious men who riot and terrorize a community could 'call' themselves a church and the community would be justified in their hatred. But this would be the exception and not the rule.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
The lost will always hate the church even if it was absolutely perfect, because they are lost, by definition, and love darkness rather than light.



I've always heard this, but I now question it. What makes us think that that the portions of scripture that make clear that the Christians will be hated and suffer persecution are applicable for all time?

They are only applicable in times and places where Jesus Christ is hated.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Likewise the church; just because one Christian or one elder or one pastor has been hypocritical, immoral or inconsistant it does not mean all are.

Be careful here. ALL Christians are hypocritical, immoral and inconsistent this side of glory.
 

Jon 316

Puritan Board Sophomore
The lost will always hate the church even if it was absolutely perfect, because they are lost, by definition, and love darkness rather than light.



I've always heard this, but I now question it. What makes us think that that the portions of scripture that make clear that the Christians will be hated and suffer persecution are applicable for all time? I mean, the sociological conditions have changed over time. In the early centuries, Christians did suffer that type of persecution that is described in the Bible, but later on in history, not so.

Think about the medieval era, where it wasn't Christians that were suffering persecution, it was non-Christians who were suffering persecution at the hands of the 'Christian' societies.

Or there is Geneva under Calvin, early America as founded by the Puritans, and I'm sure many more examples from history could show us that Christians were not always hated and persecuted.



So why do we take those passages in scripture, that could easily have been talking just to early Christians under their own unique cultural conditions, and apply them to Christians at all times, even when history shows that Christians haven't been hated and persecuted all times and at all places?

Exactly! And what is worse is that Christians assume because they face 'hostility' it because of their love for Christ rather than their own wierdness, arrogance or stupidity. Thus A believer may be experiencing difficulty with unbelievers and assumes it his 'cross to carry' when in actual fact he is being a pain and is in need of some awakening, repentance and sanctification. Yet spiritual pride blinds him to his true condition. Like the pharisee of old, he sees himself as ok but his sinful neighbour as worldly. Rather than allowing the perfect word to expose his folly.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Think about the medieval era, where it wasn't Christians that were suffering persecution, it was non-Christians who were suffering persecution at the hands of the 'Christian' societies.

Or there is Geneva under Calvin, early America as founded by the Puritans, and I'm sure many more examples from history could show us that Christians were not always hated and persecuted.

Could you elaborate on the examples of above?
 

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
No way to tell. It could be either.

We are to seek to have a good report from them without. But it may not happen since they hate us and our God and what we stand for.

So we can be innocent and yet claimed to be bad.

1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. NKJV

John 15:18 "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you,'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me
NKJV

1 John 3:12 And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother's righteous. 13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. NKJV

James 4:4 Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. NKJV
 

christianyouth

Puritan Board Senior
Thus A believer may be experiencing difficulty with unbelievers and assumes it his 'cross to carry' when in actual fact he is being a pain and is in need of some awakening, repentance and sanctification. Yet spiritual pride blinds him to his true condition. Like the pharisee of old, he sees himself as ok but his sinful neighbour as worldly..


This is a pretty common experience among Christians. I guess we can get that 'besieged' mindset, thinking that every non-Christian is a pawn of Satan waiting to pounce on us if we let down our guard. I had that mind set in high school, and it stopped me from reaching out to people as I should.

I think that if the view that brother. Johnathan Hunt expressed was true, then the Christian witness would be useless. If the non-Christian hates us, either because of the truths we profess or because of our righteousness, than our Christian witness shouldn't change how they view us. If they hate us because of our creed, then our good deeds shouldn't produce an effect, because their issue is not with our behavior but with our creed. If they hate us because of our righteousness, then we should see in them hatred for all righteousness, which, while it exists, is far from universal.

Since I think we can see the Christian witness having effect on people, both in our experience and in history, I think that the view that brother. Hunt expressed is wrong. One such example from history, of the Christian witness producing an effect is related by Eusebius(talking about the conduct of the Christians during a plague)

the testimonies of the zeal and of the piety of the Christians in all things became quite clear to all the heathen. For example, they [ the Christians] alone in such evil surroundings exhibited their sympathy and humanity by actual deeds: all during the day some persevered diligently with the last rites and the burial of the dead (for there were countless who had no one to care for them); others gathered in one assemblage the multitude of those who throughout the city were wasting away from famine, and distributed bread to them, so that the matter became noised about by all men, and they glorified the God of the Christians, and, convinced by the facts themselves, they confessed that these alone were truly pious and righteous. (Eusebius, Hist. eccle 9.8

If the unregenerate are just bound to hate us,then our actions should not have as much of an effect as we see them having. The non-Christians shouldn't have been impressed by the Christian witness during the plague, as described by Eusebius(and Tertullian and Rodney Stark).

-----Added 4/16/2009 at 07:06:19 EST-----

Could you elaborate on the examples of above?

I don't have a very detailed view of some of this, but from what I've heard, in late medieval Europe, everyone was a Christian(at least in name) and holy men, such as Monks or Hermits, were venerated, not despised. Because of conditions like this, that have probably existed outside of late medieval Europe as well(I would think Geneva, a 'Christian republic' and colonial America), it's hard to believe that the persecution passages in scripture are describing what Christians will experience all times, all places.
 

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
Matt 10:34-37

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; 36 and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. NKJV

Rom 1:32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. NKJV

Eph 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. KJV

If we did this I doubt they would be ashamed and stop to day as some might have in the past. They will no doubt despise us if god does not grant them repentance.
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
...it's hard to believe that the persecution passages in scripture are describing what Christians will experience all times, all places.

Since it's on my mind, here is a segment from Bullinger's De testamento seu foedere dei unico & aeterno, which work, along with three other early works of his, I will be beginning to post brief comments on either tonight or tomorrow at my new blog.

On the other hand, there is no doubt that there have always been myriads of saints who have lived piously in Christ, who were never sent into exile or killed for their faith. Therefore Paul's statement, "All who wish to live godly lives in Christ will suffer persecution," does not refer to a common occurrence, but is a consolation for the afflicted. There are also different kinds of persecution....For even the apostle Paul, most often safe from the snares and furies of persecutors and, what is more, revived by the ministrations of the brethren, experienced severe anxieties of the soul. For the soul of a Christian is also affected by another person's distress. (Trans. by Baker)

-----Added 4/16/2009 at 07:36:23 EST-----

In my short experience, it seems there will be times that the church is held in esteem by those without, and times when the church is hated by those without. Neither of these necessarily means we are doing rightly or wrongly. I don't think that we ought to be too concerned at all if those without should speak ill of us, if they should think us hypocrites or evildoers: when we hear such things, yes, we surely ought to examine ourselves and desire as always that we continue to be sanctified; but the natural man does not nor cannot know the things of the Spirit, and we should not be troubled: we have been told to expect this, for Christ was also accused of all manner of evil.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
The Scriptures provide a balance here. In the requirement for elders to have a good reputation among unbelievers, in the observation that when a man's ways please the Lord, even his enemies are made to be at peace with him, we can see that when a man is godly, the natural tendency is for him to live with the respect of his neighbor, and have peace.

At the same time, darkness resents light; and so Paul could lay down as a requirement for elder that he have a good testimony before unbelievers, while knowing at the same time that false accusations were circulated about him.
 

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
"All who wish to live godly lives

Persecution does not mean being hauled off to be burnt at the stake

It can be harsh word from others, mocking etc.

And the qualifier is, if you live Godly, if you differ not much from the current culture and trends you may not.
 

Rich Koster

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Although we are not perfect in this life, we should make every effort that people badmouth us for our holiness and not our tendency to act religious. We may never know the cause of things that provoke hostility towards us, but let's work at not giving the world cause to do so. If we lead peaceful, productive lives it tends to cut the legs out from under their accusations.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Could you elaborate on the examples of above?

I don't have a very detailed view of some of this, but from what I've heard, in late medieval Europe, everyone was a Christian(at least in name) and holy men, such as Monks or Hermits, were venerated, not despised. Because of conditions like this, that have probably existed outside of late medieval Europe as well(I would think Geneva, a 'Christian republic' and colonial America), it's hard to believe that the persecution passages in scripture are describing what Christians will experience all times, all places.

Be careful of making assertions about things of which you do not have a detailed view. The fact that some group who called themselves a church did some nasty things does not prove the point. Unless the OP concerns any who call themselves a church. Monks might have often been venerated because of their ascetic lifestyle which is patently NOT Christlike.

The fact that persecution happens to different degrees does not imply that the words of Christ do not bear upon all Christians in all ages.
 

christianyouth

Puritan Board Senior
It's hard for me to look at medieval Christendom and see how a medieval Christian could go to the passages describing the persecution of the early Christians and think that they are somehow sharing in those sufferings. And about me making assertions based upon incomplete information, that would be an issue if i said that there was NO persecution of Christians during the medieval era, and I hope that's not what I implied in my post. What I really mean is that explicit, lets-get-em-because-hes-a-Christian type persecution, doesn't seem to have been present in all societies at all time frames.:2cents:
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
The Scriptures provide a balance here. In the requirement for elders to have a good reputation among unbelievers, in the observation that when a man's ways please the Lord, even his enemies are made to be at peace with him, we can see that when a man is godly, the natural tendency is for him to live with the respect of his neighbor, and have peace.

At the same time, darkness resents light; and so Paul could lay down as a requirement for elder that he have a good testimony before unbelievers, while knowing at the same time that false accusations were circulated about him.

THat's a gold nuggest of wisdom there.
 
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