Tuesday, August 02, 2011

DO YOU HATE CHRISTIANS?

I have observed that a segment of the Christian community has taken up the practice of rejecting the term Christian, criticizing Christians / Christianity and attempting to distance themselves from that which is associated with the terms Christian or Christianity. In part, I understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. It has been the case that those calling themselves Christians (maybe they are, maybe they aren’t) have, at times, acted inconsistent with the character of which the term represents. This can result in creating a bad name for Christians / Christianity. This can actually be the case with any group identified by a particular term. In the case of some groups, acting consistent with what they believe should give them a bad name. This is not so with Christianity. However, this being the case, I think it’s important to realize that we face two basic options. One is to trash the name and the other is to recapture a proper representation of the name. I would suggest that the second of the two is the most reasonable and courageous option, promoting the best long-term results. Having said this, I qualify the previous statement by clarifying that in certain cultures (possibly an Islamic culture for example) missionary efforts might be enhanced by avoiding an insistence on the usage of such a term. This, however, is quite different from the, somewhat, antagonistic efforts to ridicule instead of edify. A further clarification is the recognition that there are surely times to criticize if we are aiming at edification. This brings me back to the second option referred to above. When Christians act inconsistent with Biblical Christianity (a real problem), they should be called to account. They should be confronted and corrected. This is Biblical. Second Timothy 3:16-17 states, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. James 5:19-20 reads, “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.” My concern is not over the term in question, my concern is that discarding the term does nothing to correct the departure. In fact, by failing to confront the departure we indicate that Christians act in this despicable way and therefore, “Don’t refer to me as a Christian, I’m just a lover of Jesus.” It all sounds so wonderful but it is all so wrong. As we attempt to identify, support and promote Biblical Christianity (not just in doctrine but in practice) we will face our challenges, we will have our clashes. Consider, “…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Ti.4:2-5). Our task is to do the hard, sometimes unpleasant, work of correcting / renewing the mind and encouraging / urging Christians to live lives worthy of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Ep.4:1, Phil.1:27, Col.1:10 & 1 Thes.2:12).

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