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Sunday, August 26, 2012

"Nice Guy" =/= Christian

(or) Here is a Chance for Me to be Completely Misunderstood!


 Almost everyone likes me.

This worries me a tad, because the Faith Once Delivered is not so much conducive to likeability as it is to conflict. Not "I'm gonna strap on a bomb and blow up a crowd in JEEEEE-zus's Name!" conflict, but conflict with the dominant culture. It is disturbing that the biggest conflicts I see of late are whether-or-not to say "Merry Christmas" and what chicken sandwich one prefers.

The Christian faith is to be offensive, not obnoxious. Passive-aggressiveness is NOT a fruit of the Spirit. The faith is a reasonable one, which is one reason why Paul the apostle is so unpopular. "Better felt than telt" as the old holiness guy said is NOT the way of the cross. God said to Israel through Isaiah: "Come let us reason together....". The reasonableness of Biblical Christian faith leads it ineluctably to conflict with the Spirit of the Age, the Zeitgeist. C.S.Lewis' book Mere Christianity is a primer in Christian thinking. Francis Schaeffer's How Should We Then Live  clearly shows the Christian roots of Western Civilization. (The film series is gorgeous if you can get it. OH! You can!)

One conflict from the first century involved the Roman practice of exposing infirm babies and baby girls on the mountainside for the wolves to take care of, not  in Romulus and Remus fashion. The local Christians, with no fanfare or street marches, would collect the infants and raise them.

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, proclaimed:

34“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

35For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,

a daughter against her mother,

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—

36a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
 37“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10)

 Wow. This is not Nice Guy talk at all, but it has been borne out countless times throughout history. In India, when a Hindu is baptised into Christ, the disciple's family understand what this signifies, and hold a funeral. Divisive.

The Gambler, the Drunkard, the Lecher, all must separate themselves from their former associates and start anew. This appears to be haughty and high-minded, but Paul makes clear the problems inherent in bad company.

Paul! He was NOT  a Nice Guy. When Judaizing teachers came to the Gentile churches at Galatia, and troubled them by teaching that they should be circumcised and follow the Mosaic Law to really be Christians, Paul came out swinging:

As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! (Gal. 5:12)

Not a Nice "Christian" thing to say. The truth, though, must be spoken plainly, for it divides the sheep from the goats, the obedient from the rebels. The Word of God is Life, but it divides.

For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb. 4:12 KJV2000)

On the last day, what we have done in Christ will divide us from the disobedient.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.(Matthew 25)

The truth that we speak, and the truth that we do divide us from the rest of the world. 
This is not Nice, in any kids' soccer sense. Some get the crown, some get the boot. Each of us has the choice to make, Jesus' way, or Sinatra's. If it's Jesus' way, SOMEONE'S not going to like it.

Let me see, I need to make one point. Offensive (as in games), not obnoxious. Biblically, there is no call for the currently chic vulgar Vulgate; the convenient ignoring of the teaching:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Eph.4:29)

It is a comment on our time that for many modern Christians, "f-bombs" and comments on people's ancestry are more often to be heard than discussion about "propitiation", "soteriology", "gnosticism", and "the Godhead". (Pauses a tick). Just needed to express that. One more area where modern believers are looking more like the world than not.  This admonition is not hard to understand. Say what builds up, not what tears down.


Jay said...

"Truth is hate to those who hate the truth."

Doom said...

Don't worry about what people consider you. Lots of people think I am quite nice too. Now, the closer the get, the more solid and limited that form of niceness gets. And, the more extreme the limits and penalties. So long as no violence is... brought to me, I will sit and talk about something all day. I literally have the time, if I might excuse myself for a nap and ask to continue at some future time. But most know, who know me (even if they think of me as a nice guy), that if violence is brought it should be brought swiftly and lethally or shouldn't be messed with. I'm the nicest slayer you will ever know.

As well, there is depth to "nice" in some cases. I will give you, almost, the shirt off my back. If it was critical to your survival, to staunch bleeding or something, I would. Otherwise we would go get you a shirt (if you were in need not from your own choices). I would suffer for you, if I could, to make sure you survive, should you be in a car accident or some such. I would take risks for you, if you hadn't called the danger down upon yourself. And even then, sometimes, for just a silly or inattentive mistake, I can forgive and help. Depth, realness, limits. Nice isn't all bad, in the modern term. It just shouldn't be the whole of you. Just... a part. You aren't just a man, a dad, a husband, a businessman, an American, a Christian, or anything else, why should you just be nice?

Now, as it pertains to Christianity, Christ specifically? That is quite different. Christ WAS nice, just not in the ugly form that it has, and probably always has, sort of been portrayed. Look, what Christ wants is for us to be more than the simple animal that we can sometimes devolve. He wants us not to be Christian simply because we were taught that, but because it means something, and to us personally. He wants to show us the way. Many, perhaps most, and sometimes all, of us have a strong prediliction to give only when we get (and sometimes only if we value what we get more than that of what we give). We want ours to "win". We want infantile animal things. But we can be so much more. Much as with a good education, the education is only the beginning of work, not the end or even really the start.

I'm not doing a great job here. Just... Christ, truly, is nice. He just didn't physically live, that first time here, in a nice place and He explained what that would mean. With God, I think you will understand you can afford to be nice. You won't lose. As a child, come to Him as a child. Remember that. Just... also keep in mind that you are in a very bad world, at the moment. Yeah, itchy.

Blathering, I'll move on.

Doom said...

Oh, off topic but... you being... of an independent mind and in the biz... Have you ever thought of ways of helping Americans who suffer under the little tyrannies of our own statist life? This could be just one of many possible examples. I absolutely love it myself.

The Aardvark said...

Thanks Doom...I'm not planning to start the Ogre-tarian church. Your " just not in the ugly form that it has, and probably always has, sort of been portrayed" is PRECISELY the angle of "nice" I was referring to. So sweet that it rots the teeth out of the Gospel. "Do what you want...Jesus understands." kind of bilge.

As to the t-shirt. Excellent.

I have liked Lewis' portrayal of Aslan/Christ:

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver, “don't you hear what Mrs.
Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell

Doom said...

The tough part of the teeth in the gospel for me? Yes, Christ did understand. He understood I would sin so well that, against all His personal love for life, and His own life, He surrendered it by allowing Himself to be NAILED to a cross. Which, when the teeth are fully accounted, means my sins, not the Jews, not the Romans, but my sins, nailed Christ to the cross. I never let that get out of arms reach.

I don't think most people have the stomach for it, the constitution to realize who really murdered Christ. The Jews were us, and we became everything they were, many of us and our religious institutions are on the exact same paths. I get just as frustrated as you do. Watering things down for children is no better than feeding them cookies and candy since that is what they prefer. But mostly you find the people who water it down, do it for their own unwillingness to accept fault, realize their sin in truth. No, no, easier to just ignore all that made Jesus the Christ and just like Him and His notions, when they suit our wants. Bah!

The Aardvark said...

Yessir. As Galt would say, you hit that one out of the park.

If I can blame the Romans, or the Jews, (or better, BOTH!)then I can absolve myself of the guilt. This is why all the "historical Jesus" stuff winds up as such bunk. If I can put Jesus in the pages of a nice, safe (!) tome, then I do not have to deal with Him personally. Charlemagne was great and all, but his being safely in a text, I do not have to tidy up to invite him to tea.

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