Would an Ambassador for Christ be rude to other Christians?

Posted: December 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

Every true Christian is an ambassador of Jesus Christ; as such, an ambassador of Christ should never be rude to anyone, much less other Christians. What is considered “rude” should be clarified, however. A rebuke out of love, for example, is not rude, it is essential. I encourage anyone to read 2 Corinthians 5 for the complete context, bit go back to at least 4:13 to catch all the “sos”, “fors”, “sinces”, “thoughs”, and “therefores”, etc.! Anyway, I don’t think it would do too much damage to begin with verse 11 and go on to verse 21:

“Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are ‘out of our mind,’ as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

 

We are to be aImage result for ambassadors for christmbassadors of Christ out of love, not pride or a judgmental spirit. Yes, we hate sin, we call it what it is, and we do not compromise simply to avoid “hurt feelings”. A great problem can arise, however, when people who find certain sins to be so noxious and disgusting transfer their personal feelings about them onto God, claiming they are right in line with his thinking. For example: the members of Westboro Baptist church. Make no mistake, God hates sin; according to scripture, homosexual acts are sinful, an abomination; to justify otherwise necessitates devising too many tortuous schemes and revisions of scripture and church history that are just not true to either. That discussion, however, is for another place. My concern, and I don’t think it would be arrogant to say it is God’s concern as well, is that the attitude of people like those at Westboro is so odious, self-righteous, and hypocritical, that they end up doing far more harm than good. In fact, I struggle to find anything at allthat is good about them! What makes them wrong?

It is a very simplistic, non-nuanced reading of Psalm 5:5, “The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong;” Sounds simple, no? Well, no. First of all, look at the rest of the sentence, vs 6: “you destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful you, LORD, detest.” Does God really destroy those who tell lies? If that were so literally, like God hates sinners literally, then few of us would be reading these words, plus, we have a president who would have been destroyed decades ago! These are figures of speech, phrases to reinforce to us how horrible sin is, not just because they piss God off or make us sick (“ooh, that’s just nasty!”), but because they harm us, they cause death and, ultimately, if there is no repentance, do bring destruction.

Second, it’s new word Friday! “One of the most plausible solutions is that the Bible writers are using a figure of speech called metonymy when they write that God hates sinners. Metonymy is defined as: ‘A figure by which one name or noun is used instead of another, to which it stands in a certain relation’ (Bullinger, 1898, p. 538). Bullinger further explains that metonymy can be ‘of cause,’ when the person acting can be put in place of the thing that is done (p. 539). For instance, in Luke 16:29, the text says: ‘They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.’ In reality, they did not have ‘Moses’ or the ‘prophets,’ but they did have their writings. The name Moses is a metonymy that stood for his writings, since he was the cause of the writings. In modern times, that would be like saying, ‘I hate Shakespeare.’ Would the person who said that mean that he hated Shakespeare’s personality? No. We understand he would be saying he does not like the writings of Shakespeare, with no comment on the playwright’s personality.

“If we apply that same figure of speech to the passages about God ‘hating sinners,’ we can see that the sinner is put in place of the sin. Thus, when God says He hates ‘a false witness who speaks lies’ (Proverbs 6:19), if metonymy is being used, then God hates the lies, and the one who is doing the lying (the cause) is put in place of the lies (the effect). It is interesting to see how clear this feature can be in other contexts. For instance, Proverbs 6:17 says that God hates ‘a lying tongue.’ Does that mean that God hates a physical tongue, made of muscle and body tissue? No. It means God hates the sin that a tongue can perform. In the same context, we learn that God hates ‘feet that are swift in running to evil’ (6:18). Again, does that mean that God hates physical feet? No. It simply means that God hates the sin that those feet can perform. It is interesting that while few, if any, would suggest that God hates physical tongues or actual feet, they would insist that God hates actual sinners and not the sin done by them.

“When studying the Bible, it is very important to keep in mind that the Bible writers often used figures of speech. When we look at the idea that God hates sin, but loves sinners, the figure of speech known as metonymy clears up the confusion. Just as God does not hate physical feet or tongues, He does not hate sinners. These nouns are put in the place of the things they cause—sin.” (Does God Hate Sinners?)

According to the 2 Corinthians passage above, we are to be about the ministry of reconciliation; the unmitigated hatred and self-righteousness of the people at Westboro and others like them run completely counter to this calling; they risk becoming as wicked as the people they rail against.

Elsewhere we are taught, “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats ; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” (1 Peter 3:13–17) If ever you hear a “Christian” doing anything without “gentleness and respect”, ignore him. He is either a false teacher or he is temporarily out of God’s will. I’d be very careful to pay them any heed.

Sadly, I think there are Christians in America who feel guilty for not being persecuted. For good or ill, blessing or curse, we live in a culture where our religious freedoms are guaranteed, so persecution is extremely rare here. What some people will do, then, is take the role of Judge upon themselves and mount a soapbox of sorts, rudely and crudely pronouncing all kinds of ridiculous judgments upon “fags”, Muslims, atheists, “sinners”! They eschew gentleness and respect, marking their territory as it were with cruelty and contempt. They ignore the Cross, the Lamb, and the Son who loved all of us so much that he,

“…being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

and gave him the name that is above every name,

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:6–11

(All emphases mine)

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