Christians in our day often complain about how they are depicted in the media and by academics. On national television recently I heard a writer claim that Christians were the only group that it was politically correct to ridicule and malign. Other groups do seem to enjoy a greater immunity to criticism than Christians do.
Many Christians take comfort in the sure knowledge that all this opposition is only the work of Satan, and, after all, merely a matter of prophetic fulfillment. Isn’t the world supposed to get worse and worse as we approach the “end.” The tendency is to draw a smaller and smaller circle around ourselves, hunkering down in our church “foxholes’ where we can reinforce our spiritual paranoia and passively wait for God to bring judgment on his/our enemies. The Bible says that only a few will find the “way.” Right?! Subsequently, we reason that it should be no surprise that the multitudes hate us.
These rationalizations may be convenient in explaining to ourselves the negative feelings which many hold against the Christians, but do they really deal with what has happened to us. As Christians do we really listen to our message? Does our pre-occupation with a coming judgment, in which most will fall short, sound like “good news”. I ask myself why anyone would embrace that message willingly and joyfully.
Two thousand years ago, Christ definitely spoke of a coming judgment, but a careful analysis of his words reveals that this judgment is long past. No explanation for the supposed delay in Christ’s prophesied judgment has ever been offered other than to say that God is waiting to offer the greatest opportunity for repentance. If God is not willing that any should perish, how does a two thousand year delay, help any one individual avoid perishing? This is a very pertinent question in our day when much of our message is one of “end times”. If the long standing emphasis on judgment remains our focus, we can expect continued opposition, not because of prophesy or even the evil nature of our opponents but rather because our message is inconsistent and unappealing.
The churches cannot be a bastion against the world and a transforming agent in that world. Transformation requires a message that can be embraced willingly and joyfully. That message is available to us, but it is not one of judgment and condemnation. It is the story of God’s love for mankind, a story unsullied by any element of incompleteness or continued spiritual warfare.