(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.