- Adam Butler
Shooting the Messenger
Voddie Baucham often says in his messages, “I don’t write the mail; I just deliver it.” In other words, as Christians, we are messengers—those entrusted with the good news of the truth of God’s word. That is the essence of the Gospel, after all: good news. However, being messengers is not without some form of persecution. That is, as a messenger, be prepared to be shot at.
There is a phrase that goes “don’t shoot the messenger.” Similar to Baucham’s aforementioned line, the implication is that the messenger merely delivers the message, and to face opposition for that sake is not warranted. However, this is not the case in terms of the Gospel message. In fact, the opposite is true. Gospel messengers are to expect opposition. Jesus says in Matthew’s gospel, “Matthew’s gospel, he says “and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22). In John’s gospel, He says, “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). Those are some seriously charged words.
In terms of the Gospel message, messengers are to expect some form of opposition.
Why is it that, of all the worldviews today, Christianity is the one that receives the most opposition and negative reaction? Because Christianity claims to be the one true way to heaven, and is not without hard teachings, compared to a postmodern culture. That is, the very fundamentals of the Christian faith are hated by most of the world today. So, there is no question that those who profess Christianity are hated simply for holding to them. As Del Tackett said once, truth makes enemies simply by being true. However, this should not discourage us; it should reassure us that we are being faithful to that which God has commanded us.
In other words, if you are not receiving any opposition or challenge for the sake of your convictions, you are probably not being vocal enough about them. A disciple who is not openly displaying his faith will not expect any worldly opposition; after all, if no one knows what you believe, how will they challenge you? However, we are commanded to do the opposite of hiding our beliefs; rather, we are expected to share them openly.
Again, to quote Jesus, he says “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). As Christians, we are the light of the world. Who are we, then, to hide the good news of the Gospel, and keep it to ourselves? The answer: it makes us so-called disciples who are not taking heeds to Jesus’s commands. How can one claim to be a follower of Jesus and not truly follow Him? In other words, one who claims to follow Christ but does not truly follow Christ is not much of a disciple, if he is even one at all.
In this world we will experience some form of persecution for the sake of the Gospel. In America, this may not manifest in the form of physical persecution, such as is the case in many other countries, in which a public display and proclamation Christianity is like putting a target on your back and asking to be shot. Yet, those who claim to be Christ-followers in many of these countries make American evangelicals look puny and childish, due to their bold displays of faith amidst a hostile culture. American culture is hostile, but not to the same degree of gravity.
It is important to keep in mind the true reasons for which messengers are being attacked. Is it for the sake of the Gospel, or because of our own failures to represent Christ? As ambassadors for Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:20), our job is to imitate Christ to the best of our abilities. While we will never achieve this perfectly on this side of eternity, being fallen, broken humans who are sinful both by nature and choice, we are commanded to display Christ’s grace and truth. Sadly, too many Christians either lean to one or the other: all grace and no truth leads to compromise. All truth and no grace leads to religion. The two are not mutually exclusive; God is a God of grace and truth. The Gospel is a message of grace and truth. Christians ought to be salt and light, thus expressing grace and truth.
Someone said it this way: if they hate you because of Jesus, you are being faithful. If they hate Jesus because of you, there is a problem.
If you are experiencing hard opposition for the sake of Jesus’s name, do not give up. Remember that we are never promised an easy life as Christians. What we are promised, however, is redemption and salvation from a God who loves us immensely, to the degree of dying a brutal death for the sake of those by whom he was killed. You are a messenger. You will be shot at. But thank God that you get to suffer for the sake of the God we serve (Acts 5:41).