comfort

‘All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.’ [Jesus Christ, Matthew 10.22 with similiar renditions in Luke 21.17 and Mark 13.13

But what does that mean? Well, for starters, i guess it might mean that if no-one at all hates you, you just might be doing it wrong.

I think what Jesus was meaning by that statement was that the message i am about to give you and the lifestyle I will demonstrate for you is so different and so subversive and so completely upside-down from what you are used to, that a lot of people will not understand and many people will respond in confusion and anger, and some may even want to kill you.

A little bit of a problem if you are blending in so well with those around you that no-one even notices you are different.

But ‘hate’ is so strong, so let’s take it down a notch:

# Jesus was betrayed, denied, abandoned, judged, accused of something He didn’t do, deserted and crucified [one of the most painful deaths known to man]

# Paul was beaten, stoned, judged, shipwrecked, lashed, accused of being something he wasn’t and eventually killed

# 10 of Jesus’ 12 disciples were martyred for their faith [Judas killed himself and John died of old age but amongst the others it is believed they included death by being thrown off the temple, flayed alive and crucified upside-down, stabbing, being sawn in half and being clubbed to death.

Early Christians were covered in tar and set on fire for the amusement of Nero [or to be human candles at his parties], they were dragged behind chariots until dead, they were tied in leather bags and thrown in water so that they were squeezed to death and they were fed to the lions and other beasts at the Roman circus.

and don’t get me started on the Old Testament…

since almost everyone throughout the Bible lived lives that don’t appear when you type ‘comfortable’ and ‘people in the Bible’ into Uncle Google, with Jesus preaching that if you live a life that is modeled on his words and teaching that you will not be popular and since the actual lives of those professing faith in Jesus throughout the early history of the church looked remarkably uncomfortable, at risk, revolutionary, difficult and challenging, it AMAZES ME how so much of the western church today can arrive at a Christianity that looks very much comfortable, easy, non-threatening, acceptable [to those outside of the church] and not really all that subversive at all.

could this be linked to the fact that so many of us are not reading the bible any more but simply listening to the words of teachers who say things we agree with?

could this be because many of us have run out of steam and exchanged the change-the-world passion we once exhuded so brightly for settling and comfort?

could this be because the stories of those actively living lives that look a lot more like Jesus are being pushed to the side while the noise of the popular preacher takes centre stage?

and more.

the good news is that it is never too late to change.

the world is crying out for an authentic church that flies in the face of conventional assimilation and actually knows, believes and lives out the words of Jesus.

[altho be warned – all men might hate you if you do… but that might be a sign that you are close to being on the right track again]

[and i should add the disclaimer that being hated by everyone doesn’t mean you’re necessarily doing it right – it could just mean you’re a jerk – looking at you Westboro! – so you’re looking for the combination of following Jesus and not being particularly loved by everyone]

if your Christianity is easy, chances are strong that you could be doing it wrong. it seldom was for Jesus and He came to show us how perfectly this thing could be done.

‘Then Jesus said, if anyone wants to follow Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’ [Luke 9.23]

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