When you publish things with the frequency that I do, you get a lot of varying reactions. You gain a few readers and make a few enemies. You endear yourself to some and grate on the nerves of other.
“I can live with that.”
I’m not sure what most people think of me (or my musings) because most people don’t offer a written response. There are some, however, who make their feelings well known. Earlier this year, I was called a Bible thumper. The perpetrator of that remark was apparently a non-believer who had a bit of disgust for people like myself. I can live with that. It comes with the territory.
More recently, however, I was accused of being a false prophet. My accuser’s exact words were, “You are a false prophet destroying people and leading them into HELL.” I have to tell you, that remark shook me up a tad. It’s one thing to have an atheist call you a Bible thumper. It’s quite another to have a brother in Christ call you a false prophet.
I guess I wouldn’t have minded so much if he had explained his remarks. Unfortunately, he refused to engage me in conversation. Maybe he suspected I wasn’t worth the trouble. I would have liked to know what the error of my ways happened to be. I’ll never get any better if these things aren’t pointed out to me.
Originating From Within the Body
When these sorts of things happen, I try to console myself with the words of Jesus. Toward the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount he said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12) I just never expect the insults, persecution, and falsehoods to originate from within the Body of Christ. Apparently, I’m naive.
In a case like that, what does one do? The answer is the same regardless of where the insults are initiated. In his first epistle to the church, Peter said, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:9) So, according to Peter, we have to play nice with the bad guys (so to speak). Peter’s not alone in conveying these sentiments.
The interesting thing about each of these portions of Scripture is how they’re wrapped up. Both Jesus and Peter indicate we will be rewarded or blessed as a result of the insults, lies, and persecutions. It seems like a tough way to be blessed, but I guess I’ll take them any way I can get them.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently the pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]