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And so there was a division between the people because of him. John 7:43


There are elements of the truth that are sharp and biting... almost antagonistic. It is understandable that people would react against these painful revelations.


But strangely enough, the passive aspects of truth can often bring greater reprisals than the more aggressive words and actions.


When we say 'passive truth' we do not mean lukewarmness or insipid compromise. Instead, we mean a full-on willingness to lay down our lives for others.


It usually takes a little longer for people to get the full impact of such a witness, but when they sense this commitment, it can anger them more than an open rebuke, because it convicts them more than any sermon ever could.

It's almost as predictable as a mathematical formula: The measure of your sincerity will determine the measure of hatred insincere people will feel toward you; and the more gentle you are, the more violent will be their hatred when they finally express it.


But this is a difficult principle to accept. Society hates martyrs, and never stops telling us that "if you're getting persecuted, it must be because you deserve it." Obviously, if this is so, then Jesus was just a trouble-maker. As the verse at the start of this article states, he seemed to cause divisions wherever he went.


Jesus never shirked from speaking up against self-righteousness and hypocrisy, which obviously didn't win him many friends in the synagogues. But most of his life was spent just doing good and helping others. His refusal to argue at his trial probably angered his persecutors and sealed his fate as much as anything he had said previously. If he had lost his cool and engaged in a shouting match it may have been just enough to satisfy everyone that "at least he's human".


It is tempting to get into heated discussions with people when we know we are right and when we know that we can prove it. And this does happen from time to time, occasionally with good results. But merely winning an argument (i.e. a heated discussion where no one is listening) won't change anyone else, and it could destroy our own spirit in the process. Often our silence will speak volumes.


As our faith grows, our confidence should grow too. We will come to see that we can engage in very innocent, loving, helpful activities and at the same time be waging a mighty battle against spiritual wickedness that will challenge the very foundations of an evil world.


What is most striking, is that the more innocent and genuinely helpful that our activities have been prior to the persecution, the more powerful we have found the impact to be, of the cross of persecution that we were later called on to bear.


(See also A Letter to a Doctor.)

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