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The Reason



[i]It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Matthew 10:25[/i]
It is becoming harder and harder for us to convince people that we are just another (safe) religious group.  Sooner or later they hear that there is a lot of nasty stuff being said about us, and with google being so handy these days, the question comes sooner rather than later: i.e. "Why is everyone saying such nasty stuff about you?"
I don't think I have ever had the confidence to say it in an interview when questioned on the topic, but my honest belief is that the reason we receive so much unwarranted opposition is definitely because of our decision to follow Jesus.  Hopefully, after writing this article, I will be more confident about saying so in future.  (Maybe we should just call ourselves "The Jesus Cult" and be done with it!)
Of course, one has to be very confident that we have not done something to actually deserve the opposition before we can claim to be suffering directly because of our commitment to Jesus.  Nevertheless, Jesus was clear about it.  While there are other reasons for being persecuted besides the fact that we are following him, if we do follow Jesus, he himself guarantees that it will bring persecution.
So much of the banter back and forth between ourselves and our critics avoids this reality, yet it looms like the unacknowledged elephant in the room.  Obviously we have decided to follow Jesus, and we have done so in a way that is rarely even thought of in all those churches who would claim to be doing the same thing.  We have taken his teachings and attempted to literally practice them in our daily lives. It's not just theology, religious rituals, wishful thinking, and emotional experiences.  It's about obedience to the actual teachings of Jesus... being willing to lay our lives down daily in service to God and others; forsaking all that we own; taking no thought for food or clothing; ceasing to labour for the meat that perishes; going into all the world to preach this good news of faith, hope, and love; and teaching others to observe whatever he has commanded us to do.
It has infuriated the whole world in a way that goes far beyond anything that we could ever have actually done to deserve it.  Even our own relatives have turned on us, denouncing us as evil.  The media and the police have rallied behind a family which tried to kill one of our members, making heroes of that family.  Others have rallied behind another relative who has created a website dedicated specifically to destroying us as a community.
While people come to us saying, "Surely, they can't all be wrong.  You must have done something to cause so much animosity against yourselves," I just think to myself, "If they can't see it, would it really do any good for me to tell them the obvious?"  The opposition one receives for obeying Jesus is simply incomprehensible to those who have never tried obeying him.  But more than that, it infuriates them just to hear about it.  All the world hates a martyr... so much so that they would be prepared to kill anyone courting such a fate.  Ironic, isn't it?
Amongst those who oppose us, there is a silent conspiracy to not mention our commitment to the teachings of Jesus when speaking out against us, or, more recently, to actually proclaim loudly that we totally contradict everything that Jesus ever said.  What they have found is that the more extreme the lie is, the less likely people are to actually check it out.
If we are described as being worse than mass murderers and serial rapists; if we are called kidnappers, paedophiles and killers for Christ; if we are called monsters for whom the world will rejoice when we are dead, then the average person thinks, "Gosh, they must have done something bad, even if their critics [i]are[/i] exaggerating it a bit."  No one considers that the critics may actually be saying such things because we did something good.
And if they convince themselves and others that we are so totally contrary to everything that Jesus taught, that they would be doing God a service by having us incarcerated or incinerated, then who would believe that it's really because we are such dedicated servants of Christ that they have reached this conclusion?
One Quaker put it succinctly when observing the ravings of that august assembly against ourselves:  "You have simply out-quakered the Quakers, and they don't like it."  We have taken Christianity out of the dusty old textbooks and decided to actually live it, and that is seriously dangerous.
Jesus was called a devil because of the things that he said and did.  His opponents convinced themselves that he was going to destroy their Temple, overthrow the government, and trash their religion.  He was the spotless Son of God, yet they had the audacity to say that he was demon-possessed.  Even when he was healing people, there were those who were saying that he did it with help from the devil himself.
The average church goer, with their obsessions about respectability and orthodoxy, could not even begin to grasp how the goodness of Jesus would result in the worst possible accusations being levelled against him.  After all, they go to church; they say their prayers; they read the Bible, and no one is calling for their execution.  But how much does any of that -- religious as it may be -- actually resemble the life and teachings of Jesus?
Until we learn to accept that "All who would choose to live godly lives in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution," (II Timothy 3:12) we will be ever running away from the very things that would draw us closer to Jesus.  We are a community of people who have decided to really follow Jesus (as in obey what he taught), and we accept that there are going to be serious obstacles thrown in our way.  Are we going to turn back?  Or are we going to accept fanatical opposition as part and parcel of what our Master promised?
The opposition against ourselves is growing.  Those who oppose us boast of their growing numbers.  Even those who claim to disagree with the murder attempt on one of our members say that we should just overlook it, that we've done worse things ourselves, that it was all an expression of love on the part of the poor misguided individuals who did it (despite the fact that the would-be murderers appear to be plotting new ways to finish what they started).
I have probably not said much that is new in this article.  However, I think it is a message which will need to be repeated over and over in the years ahead.  We are heading toward what the Bible calls the worst period in the history of the Planet... a time when persecution will reach unprecedented proportions.  It's going to get worse before it gets better.  I have said that before, and the opposition has grown.  It will need to be said again, as the persecution grows even more.
While they rejoice at their apparent successes, Jesus tells us to rejoice that it is all part of the plan.  The more we can accept that this is going to happen, the less distracted we will become as we seek to faithfully labour for God in a world that has gone horribly astray.

It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Matthew 10:25

It is becoming harder and harder for us to convince people that we are just another (safe) religious group.  Sooner or later they hear that there is a lot of nasty stuff being said about us, and with google being so handy these days, the question comes sooner rather than later: i.e. "Why is everyone saying such nasty stuff about you?"

I don't think I have ever had the confidence to say it in an interview when questioned on the topic, but my honest belief is that the reason we receive so much unwarranted opposition is definitely because of our decision to follow Jesus.  Hopefully, I will be more confident about saying so in future.  (Maybe we should just call ourselves "The Jesus Cult" and be done with it!) 

Of course, one has to be very confident that we have not done something to actually deserve the opposition before we can claim to be suffering directly because of our commitment to Jesus.  Nevertheless, Jesus was clear about it.  While there are other reasons for being persecuted besides the fact that we are following him, if we do follow Jesus, he himself guarantees that it will bring persecution. 

So much of the banter back and forth between ourselves and our critics avoids this reality, yet it looms like the unacknowledged elephant in the room.  Obviously we have decided to follow Jesus, and we have done so in a way that is rarely even thought of in all those churches who would claim to be doing the same thing.  We have taken his teachings and attempted to literally practice them in our daily lives. It's not just theology, religious rituals, wishful thinking, and emotional experiences.  It's about obedience to the actual teachings of Jesus... being willing to lay our lives down daily in service to God and others; forsaking all that we own; taking no thought for food or clothing; ceasing to labour for the meat that perishes; going into all the world to preach this good news of faith, hope, and love; and teaching others to observe whatever he has commanded us to do.

It has infuriated the whole world in a way that goes far beyond anything that we could ever have actually done to deserve it.  Even our own relatives have turned on us, denouncing us as evil.  The media and the police have rallied behind a family which tried to kill one of our members, making heroes of that family.  Others have rallied behind another relative who has created a website dedicated specifically to destroying us as a community. 

While people come to us saying, "Surely, they can't all be wrong; you must have done something to cause so much animosity against yourselves," I just think to myself, "If they can't see it, would it really do any good for me to tell them the obvious?"  The opposition one receives for obeying Jesus is simply incomprehensible to those who have never tried obeying him.  But more than that, it infuriates them just to hear about it.  All the world hates a martyr... so much so that they would be prepared to kill anyone courting such a fate.  Ironic, isn't it? 

Between those who oppose us, there is a silent conspiracy to not mention our commitment to the teachings of Jesus when speaking out against us, or, more recently, to actually proclaim loudly that we totally contradict everything that Jesus ever said.  What they have found is that the more extreme the lie is, the less likely people are to actually check it out. If we are described as being worse than mass murderers and serial rapists; if we are called kidnappers, paedophiles and killers for Christ; if we are called monsters for whom the world will rejoice when we are dead, then the average person thinks, "Gosh, they must have done something bad, even if their critics are exaggerating it a bit."  No one considers that the critics may actually be saying such things because we did something good.

And if they convince themselves and others that we are so totally contrary to everything that Jesus taught, that they would be doing God a service by having us incarcerated or incinerated, then who would believe that it's really because we are such dedicated servants of Christ that they have reached this conclusion?

One Quaker put it succinctly when observing the ravings of that august assembly against ourselves:  "You have simply out-quakered the Quakers, and they don't like it."  

We have taken Christianity out of the dusty old textbooks and decided to actually live it, and that is seriously dangerous. Jesus was called a devil because of the things that he said and did.  His opponents convinced themselves that he was going to destroy their Temple, overthrow the government, and trash their religion.  He was the spotless Son of God, yet they had the audacity to say that he was demon-possessed.  Even when he was healing people, there were those who were saying that he did it with help from the devil himself.

The average church goer, with their obsessions about respectability and orthodoxy, could not even begin to grasp how the goodness of Jesus would result in the worst possible accusations being levelled against him.  After all, they go to church; they say their prayers; they read the Bible, and no one is calling for their execution.  But how much does any of that -- religious as it may be -- actually resemble the life and teachings of Jesus? Until we learn to accept that "All who would choose to live godly lives in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution," (2 Timothy 3:12 ) we will be ever running away from the very things that would draw us closer to the Jesus of the Bible.  

We are a community of people who have decided to really follow Jesus (as in obey what he taught), and we accept that there are going to be serious obstacles thrown in our way.  Are we going to turn back?  Or are we going to accept fanatical opposition as part and parcel of what our Master promised? 

The opposition against ourselves is growing.  Those who oppose us boast of their growing numbers.  Even those who claim to disagree with the murder attempt on one of our members say that we should just overlook it, that we've done worse things ourselves, that it was all an expression of love on the part of the poor misguided individuals who did it (despite the fact that the would-be murderers appear to be plotting new ways to finish what they started). 

I have probably not said much that is new in this article.  However, I think it is a message which will need to be repeated over and over in the years ahead.  We are heading toward what the Bible calls the worst period in the history of the Planet... a time when persecution will reach unprecedented proportions.  It's going to get worse before it gets better.  I have said that before, and the opposition has grown.  It will need to be said again, as the persecution grows even more.  

While they rejoice at their apparent successes, Jesus tells us to rejoice that it is all part of his bigger Plan.  The more we can accept that this is going to happen, the less distracted we will become as we seek to faithfully labour for God in a world that has gone horribly astray. 

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