Christians tend to get a bum rap from outsiders. We hear it on all fronts that we are backwards, fanatical, deceived, hypocritical, bigoted or ignorant, or a number of other unsavory descriptions.

Let me illustrate this point with a question: What do Mormons, atheists, liberal activists, and Muslims all have in common? Answer: They all believe Christians are wrong. I can accept that kind of criticism because I think they’re wrong also. Not because I hate them or think I’m better. But because I simply believe in a Truth which contradicts their claims and arguments.

However, the opposition that is most frustrating and hurtful (yet amusing at the same time) comes from other Christians! It is those who use the Bible and turn it against us so as to attack our teachings, motives, and lifestyles that give ministers the most gray hairs! If you’ve been saved for more than a year, you should know exactly what I’m talking about!

Maybe you’ve been in conversations such as these:

  • Christian A: When Jesus mentioned people who did things in His name, but He says to them, “Depart from me I never you,” He’s really talking about people like you because of “a, b and c.”
  • Christian B: No, I think he’s talking about you in that passage because of “x, y and z.”
  • Christian A: Well, you’re being like the Pharisees because of Jesus said to love, and you’re not loving because “this and that.”
  • Christian B: I am being loving! It’s you who’s being an unloving Pharisee because “that and this.”
  • Christian A: Oh yeah? Jesus said to be “such and such”, but I heard you say “this and that.”
  • Christian B: Well, Paul said to do “so on and so forth”, and you don’t do anything like that.

These conversations can go on and on, and often they go nowhere, because one or both people are unwilling to humble themselves and listen to the other. When these arguments arise it can cause even the most sincere and godly people to question, “Am I doing the right thing?” or “Is my heart right?” and can be a source of  great discouragement. And while it is good to have God examine your heart at times, you should never feel condemned for standing by God’s Word the best way you know how.

“Those” People

Now these sorts of conflicts are usually stirred up by “those” people. There are types who, when faced sound doctrine, correction or rebuke, will always create a mess. I shall break this down categorically:
  • Liberal Loonies: These are pastors and Bible teachers who have placed themselves outside of historic Christianity, often because of their affirming sinful behaviors such as homosexuality. Liberal Leaders must essentially deny the authority of Scripture and interpret it in such a way so as to give license to sinful living. Their greatest accusation to us that we’re not “tolerant” and “loving” like Jesus was.
  • Rogue Rebels: This type tends to believe in much of historic Christianity, except the parts that deal with Biblical authority. Whenever corrected, rebuked, or asked to submit to another leader, they retaliate like a she-bear robbed of her cubs, and call them “legalistic”. Rogue Rebels don’t usually last long in churches and ministries, because of their ambition to lead without being led themselves.
  • Compromising Cowards: These are well intentioned church going people that are probably genuinely saved. They believe in historical Christianity, belong to a church, and try to live holy. Often the issue with Compromising Cowards is the fear of man. The definition of cowardice is, “the perceived failure to demonstrate sufficient mental robustness and courage in the face of a challenge.” When they encounter street evangelists and hear sermons about God’s righteous judgment, they become uneasy for fear of offending sinners. They are marked by being the ones to discourage such preaching, saying that it’s “not loving” or that overemphasize the grace message.
  • Wacky Weirdies: These are the kind of people that teach weird beliefs and practices (such as “snorting the Holy Ghost”) because they received it as a “special revelation.” These teachings aren’t necessarily unbiblical, but they are always extra-biblical, and have the tendency to go off into heresy. Somehow these Wacky Weirdies have had experiences “in the spirit” that give them authority to override, not only other leaders, but the Bible itself. When such error is confronted, they will make themselves out to be like Jesus, and you as the Pharisee who opposes them.
  • Cooky Cultists: These are the “turn or burn”, King James only preachers that believe everyone is going to hell except for them. You have liberals and sissies tell you are unloving and don’t understand grace, then you have the Cooky Cultist tell you you’re not preaching hell enough, therefore you’re going there!

Who Are You?

Have you ever been told you’re a Pharisee? A hypocrite? The religious establishment? A legalist? With so many different groups using the Bible to prove their arguments, it is important to know how the Bible defines a pharisaic heart, and to know who Jesus called His true disciples.Allow God to test you and search your heart as you read the following descriptions with the accompanying verses:
  • Pharisees live for the praise of man (Mat. 6:1-2, 5, 16-17; 23:2-7: Lk. 6:26)
    • Disciples live only to praise God (Mat. 5:10-15)
  • Pharisees see sinners as nonredeemable and therefore despise them (Lk. 7:36-48, 15:1-2)
    • Disciples see sinners as redeemable and therefore invent them to repent and live holy (Mat. 4: 17; Mk. 1:15; Lk. 5:32; Jhn. 5:14, 8:11)
  • Pharisees exalt traditions over God’s Word and refuse to change (Mk. 7:1-15)
    • Disciples submit traditions to God’s Word and change them when necessary (Mat. 9:14-17, 13:52)
  • Pharisees are know-it-alls, unwilling to be taught (Mat. 22:15-22; Mk. 8:11-12)
    • Disciples, by definition, are learners, and are called to be childlike (Lk. 18:1-4)
  • Pharisees use the Kingdom for money (Lk. 16:13-14)
    • Disciples use money for the Kingdom (Lk. 16:1-12)
  • Pharisees abuse authority to exploit others and exercise privileges (Mat. 23:2-4, 23)
    • Disciples use authority to serve others and give up their rights (Mat. 20:20-28)
  • Pharisees impose their own standards on others  (Mat. 23:13-15)
    • Disciples teach others to obey everything Jesus commanded (Mat. 28:18-20)
  • Pharisees manipulate, intimidate and lie to win against their enemies (Mk. 14:55-59)
    • Disciples win over their enemies by reasoning, forgiving and restoring (Mat. 18:15-20)
  • Pharisees will lie and deny the truth to save their own lives (Mat. 28:11-15)
    • Disciples will give their lives for the truth (Mk. 8:34-38)

Go On! Live Like Jesus!

Hebrews 12:2-3, Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

When Jesus hung on the cross, people tried to make Him ashamed of doing His Father’s will. They hurled insults at Him “If He’s really the Messiah, let Him come down and save Himself!” It looked to everybody else like Jesus has lost. For all the hype and all of the bold claims He’d made, it appeared to be over. But Jesus always knew who He was and what He was accomplishing! For the joy set before Him– for the many redeemed souls He’d bring into His Father’s presence– Jesus didn’t care for the negativity of the crowds! Jesus died on that cross, but He rose again and made a fool of the devil and everyone who thought He was beaten!
In the same way people will come along with discouragement, telling us we’re wasting our time and tempting us to give up the fight of faith or forsake our calling. It is a very lonely journey to want to change the world for God. Sometimes it feels like there’s only a few people in the whole world who even understand the calling. And then there are others who take the easy way and seem to blow past us. But a good soldier doesn’t sit and mope—he gets up and fights, and he fights to the very end!

Hebrews 12:12-13, And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.

Go on, Christian friend! Live like Jesus! Preach like Jesus! Pray like Jesus! Serve like Jesus! Obey like Jesus! Be reproached like Jesus! Suffer like Jesus! Die like Jesus! Rise like Jesus! Walk in victory like Jesus! And don’t let the unbelieving world or critical brothers take that from you!