11 Feb 2003

Hatred Against Christ

Submitted by theshovel
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Here's the series of questions from the last Shoveletter I'm continuing on:

hey Jim, why work, enter relationships, invest money, buy things, eat or do anything God wants to make fall apart so you wont rely on those things for life? I heard again that God is gonna try to keep things crumbling in your life so you wont ever be enamored with them...is this the truth? What do you think? Are we then supposed to only think about heaven all day long so that we never rely on anything? Is the only way we grow through constant trial? Should we turn into a scared wreck if you think God will take your job from you? Do you ever worry over these things? Taking your family away or some weird thing? Adam

There is something else to consider regarding many of the trials that come our way in this world, and this is what Peter had described in his letter: That which is brought upon those in Christ by a world that is totally hostile to his life within. Check out the following where Peter refers to this sharing in "the sufferings of Christ":

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:6-9

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 1 Peter 4:12-14

The testing Peter cited is not an individually-designed program to crumble one's personal world to get his reliance off material things but is instead the squeeze put upon him by a world filled with hatred toward the miraculous life of Christ within. Peter defined this "fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing" by specifically contrasting it to the suffering caused by breaking laws:

Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. 1 Peter 4:15-16

Before moving on it will help if I comment on that opening phrase as it easily fudges Peter's simple message. There are no corresponding Greek words in the text for the NASB's "Make sure". Nor are there words for "if", "however", "let" or "deserve" as in these various translations: "If you suffer, it should not be as..." (NIV); "If you suffer, however, it must not be for..." (NLT); "But let none of you suffer as..." (KJV); "But you deserve to suffer if you are..." (CEV) I'm not suggesting that adding words to make Greek make sense in English is unwarranted, but we can't hang our hats on these translational aids.

You see, somehow, the wording has managed to frame this verse as being an instruction instead of as a living contrast that pulls the whole thing together. Consider an earlier verse,

In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you 1 Peter 4:4

The point is that something had really happened to them because of what had been put in them so that they had experienced a bad-mouthing that just didn't compute. In other words, by making this statement Peter was not trying to tell them to keep these things from happening but was building upon the reality that was IN these believers in contrast to what they HAD been before Christ. He had done this for a REAL reason: to bring their current sufferings into a true perspective.

Let's face it, how we recognize what's coming at us affects our perceptions, and therefore, our responses. The compounded confusion of our contemporary Christian culture only makes a convincing testimony to this fact. How so? Our religious world teaches a Christian lifestyle comprised of looking for sin and living in shame ... which reduces Christ, our life to nothing more than a doctrine, not a reality.

And what is the compounding of this confusion? It's inevitable conclusion that the legal habit of looking for sin and living in shame will demand that we judge ourselves according to the same fleshly viewpoint that found sin in JESUS. Don't you remember how often the self-righteous converged upon Jesus in order to find FAULT? This is what the self-justified ALWAYS do. When Jesus demanded of the Pharisees, "Which one of you convicts Me of sin?", he no doubt contrasted himself against those who are convicted by law, but he also established the pattern by which those made righteous by God would be judged by those who try to make themselves righteous.

My point in all this is to say that if you don't recognize the living distinction that demands that Christ REALLY removed you from what you used to be you aren't going to recognize what Peter was saying. Instead, you are going to fall into a confusion that makes it sound Biblical to judge your life according to fleshly appearances. Such a disorientation leaves you with no other option than to follow up on the sin you see in yourself and around you according to the same principles by which you discovered it in the first place! What if the sin that triggers the merry-go-round is the same kind of sin they saw in Jesus? You know, it might just give the evil one great pleasure watching us go through all our religious mumbo-jumbo as we try to rid ourselves of this sin ... not knowing that the thing we're religiously trying--and of course, failing--to get out of ourselves is the life of Jesus! Whoa!

You see, having been brought into union with Christ caused us to inherit a double-sided desirable/undesirable benefit: we're seen and treated just as he was by the world in which we live. If he was viewed as the worst kind of sinner - even though the very power of God flowed through him - we shouldn't be surprised to find a similar judgment against us. Peter contrasted a deserved suffering against an undeserved suffering, and these people knew what it was to suffer as one defined by evil deeds, making them understandably surprised at the negative reactions for being a Christ-clone. In other words, it makes sense to catch hell for hurting others, but not for living as one made alive in Christ.

...but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. 1 Peter 4:16

Being called a Christian most likely began as an offensive term (in Antioch, when Peter was there, by the way) by those who desired to openly shame, or malign, these believers. But the shame imagined by the fleshly mind is entirely bogus, so that we have no business being ashamed by it. Instead, the very name by which the world would despise us is a name by which we can revel in God.

Of course, as there's more self-righteousness, institutionalism, or elitism expressed through the contemporary designation, Christian, we might want to think twice before claiming glory to God when somebody calls us something that expresses little more than a religious distinction. Oh it may represent a certain disdain, but I'm not inclined to see it as an insult toward the real God ... merely as a criticism against the institutionalized one.

It's not that the world isn't treating believers the same as before, it's just that we're going to hear it expressed in terminology that SOUNDS as offensive as that term once did. What descriptive word or phrase has been thrown at you to ridicule your connection to the one who was viewed as being weak and foolish by a world - including the religious world - that speaks of its own strength and abilities? Now, take that designation and glorify God in it, because the shame the world sees in you is none other than Christ himself.

To be continued: Trials Without a Cause.

Comments

theshovel's picture

These comments were all transferred over from the original website


Posted: February 12, 2003 by Adam

Ya,i can see what ya mnean! It looks alot like Peter is defining a PRESENT tense law we are to follow [or them rather]-with the wording here.I had always struggled with this once i began to venture through the bible a little more as a young christiian struggling with law and grace.You ever played thAT game wear you have a group of 20 people and you think of a word then wisper it to the next person,then that person wispers to the next and so on....till you get to the 20th person and they blurt out the word that was carried to over 20 people ....and its the WRONG WORD?Each person put a little of their own interpetation or "sugar" on the original word and whether they misunderstood or just interpeted incorrectly--the whole word and meaning is changed at the end.Im not saying the bible is all this way--but oftwn times i wonder whats up with the 20 people!


Posted: February 12, 2003 by Mike

Jimmy

You are a treasure!! Thanks for the good word. Love


Posted: February 12, 2003 by Natalie

« Instead, you are going to fall into a confusion that makes it sound Biblical to judge your life according to fleshly appearances. Such a disorientation leaves you with no other option than to follow up on the sin you see in yourself and around you according to the same principles by which you discovered it in the first place! What if the sin that triggers the merry-go-round is the same kind of sin they saw in Jesus? You know, it might just give the evil one great pleasure watching us go through all our religious mumbo-jumbo as we try to rid ourselves of this "sin" ... not knowing that the thing we're religiously trying--and of course, failing--to get out of ourselves is the life of Jesus! Whoa! »

The bible is used like a weapon. Shrapnel has embedded itself in every christian....from other christians exploding judgmental bombs. Using verses out of context to hurt and judge Christians. I have a hard time seeing any nonchristian people judging me in this life. Just as with Jesus...maybe they didn't follow him, but they thought he was a nice guy. It was the "religious" leaders who hated him, cuz he upset their apple carts. Every day I deal with persecution from Christians almost. But I am still able to minister and I am still able to reach some. The Bible teacher at our school was having a discussion with the students about bringing glory to god and she said you should only use two squares of toilet paper or you are wasting paper and that is not glorifying to God. My son told me this!!! Talk about ridiculous. But this is what we live with. To me...those are the trials in life....living with fundamentalists who seem to think they are doing good while actually tearing down lives and robbing people of joy with judgment and silly applications of the bible.
Had to vent. love,


Posted: February 12, 2003 by Neil

Jim,
Thanks for that treatise on the perspective of "suffering in the name of Christ." Sure has been a lot of misunderstadning on that subject, especially of late with American Christians who, for the most part, do not think that they should have to suffer. They accept the fact that Christians are suffering in third-world countries but attribute the suffering of those folk to a contextural thing. The government or culture those Christians live in is anti-Christian and so, naturally, they (whether real or in name only) will suffer. Too bad, but that's just the way it is. In the United States, which is supposedly and predominantly a "Christian" nation, such suffering shouldn't be happening because of one's adherence to Christ or to a church/organization bearing that moniker. So, if an American Christian is suffering it must be, by that thinking, due to God's dealing with that person according to some sin, shortcoming, failing or some other personal issue. As we have seen, both of these views are flawed and have no relationship to the reality of Christ as one's life. I, for one, vacillated back and forth between these two wrong types of thinking for years. I had accepted the life of Christ as my life when I was eleven years old, though had little, if any, understanding of what that meant. But since Christ is the faithful one and not us, he remained true to his word, his promise of never leaving us, for all those years that I did not really know what that life was. So I put myself through a lot of useless guilt and agonizing soul-searching as to why I was such a miserable sinner while putting myself through even more religious activity in an effort to exorcise myself of my sinful nature--which, of course, didn't work. As Paul noted, living according to the Law only served to stir up more sin since it has no power to free us from sin.
In school I was brow-beaten by kids who called me a "Holy Joe" or some other name meant to demean merely because I was a preacher's kid. I knew I really wasn't holy and I thought God was using them as another form of punishment by showing me my own hypocracy. I knew I was a fraud and couldn't glory in suffering for Christ's sake at all because I didn't truly think I was suffering for his name, anyway. I was guilty of sin and had brought it all upon myself. Often I would just give up altogether and try to fit in with the crowd just to verify to myself that I really wasn't holy and to get some relief from the guilt. That never worked, either. The day I was released from my self-imposed imprisonment (Christ had freed me many years before, but I still had not walked out) through the understanding of what he had already accomplished was truly a happy one. At last I followed what Paul had been urging when he begged believers to "be reconcilled to God." That is to say, Christ had obtained my reconcilliation but I had not allowed myself to be reconcilled by allowing my selfish life of living in guilt to be crucified so that his selfless life of living in guiltfree and eternal fellowship with God could be realized in me. Yet as happy as that was, it is a message which I have found to be resisted to the max by today's Christians. They want to continue living in their smug and self-satisfied religious kingdom which opposes Christ and exalts the self. I know how resistive they can be, too, because I was there for years and years. You couldn't have beat this into me with a sledgehammer. Not until I came to the end of myself, exhausted from those futile years of trying to please God, did I finally give in to the One who already had. And though my life in the flesh has been little different since then (better in some ways, worse in others), and may never be, the joy I have from realizing what I am in Christ makes all the difference in the world. I've incurred gains, had irreplacable losses, but it is all of no consequence with Christ. Thanks, Jim, once more.


Posted: February 12, 2003 by Kris

I felt the Lord tell me I need to look for the living sacrifice acceptable to God, to help my brother understand why he is suffering. My bro, George< is getting his home forclosed, had adivorce, lost his job, and his car broke, But through it all he is saved. When he first got saved I told him it's alright to drink alcohol if you don't drink too much, but I didn't realize he was an alcoholic. He got DUI"s and hisn home life ruined. He also owes IRS. He is distroyed, but Christ paid the dept he couldn't pay. The Conviction I got through hearing how my brother suffered caused me not to want even a sip of alcohol that may make another stumble. I can have water but not wine, cause I have seen distruction , domestic violence, poverty and even death. No man needs alcohol, it is a trick of the one who robs steals kills and distroys. It breaks the reputation of Holiness and it has an apearance of evil. They call it spirits but not cause it attracts the holy spirit. It has no place in the Body and it never did any good for me. Is it a stumble for some and not others, but why drink it if I stumble my brother. sincerely


Posted: February 12, 2003 by Anonymous

Everyone in my churchis getting a taste of suffering now, last week the message was the same verses you just shared here, which confirms to me it is from the One God The HOLY SPIRIT< THE COMFORTER< THE LIFE< THE WAY >THE TRUTH

Peter defined this “fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing”-Jim I find it interesting that we are so darn tempted to view this after the naturally occurring wisdom in the world that would frame this ‘testing’ as understood by it’s own elements. Isn’t this what James was rebuking in those who clung to the legal mind Jim? Didn’t he say that no one should say that God is ‘tempting him’? No, no. This testing must be of another meaning than what we have been accustomed to. I suspect that this has more of the element of PROVING and or manifesting than the temporal ideas we are accustomed to here in the world. Though man[the world] may very well be ‘testing’ us I suspect God’s ‘test’ is of another meaning and place. And not just the same meaning only ‘God’s’ as it is so often taught by all of the IC.[and all of craftily devised religion] Rather it is something all together different.

Wow! This is awesome! I have not read or thought about that verse in quite some time, but thank you for putting it into contextual perspective! AWESOME! It is that the fiery ordeals tend to want to ‘test’ to prove if we are ‘of’ them, ‘from’ them, ‘with’ them, ‘for’ them, etc., as opposed to being from the glory of GOD Who is our LIFE, regardless of the ‘tests’ that are persistently bombarding us from this world. We do not have to give-in to the ‘test’ or the ‘tester’ to prove anything!  :) They will hate us for who we are revealed to be, for our identity will be from GOD and not from them. I LOVE what you said here James: “The testing Peter cited is not an individually-designed program to crumble one’s personal world to get his reliance off material things but is instead the squeeze put upon him by a world filled with hatred toward the miraculous life of Christ within.” and: “Our religious world teaches a Christian lifestyle comprised of looking for sin and living in shame … which reduces Christ, our life to nothing more than a doctrine, not a reality.” I would add, ‘reduces Christ to nothing more than a …’ Santa Clause! LOL (In keeping with the current season, you see?) and this one! whoa! awesome! : “Of course, as there’s more self-righteousness, institutionalism, or elitism expressed through the contemporary designation, Christian, we might want to think twice before claiming glory to God when somebody calls us something that expresses little more than a religious distinction. Oh it may represent a certain disdain, but I’m not inclined to see it as an insult toward the real God … merely as a criticism against the institutionalized one.” Wonderful! Encouraging!  :) Thank you! :)
theshovel's picture

Thank you for writing and adding some wonderful comments!

Jim

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