Paul promises that Christians will suffer. We saw this in our study this past week in Philippians 1:27-29.
"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ... without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you... For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him"
Paul talks about the adversaries that opposed the Christians in Philippi. And he says this is part and parcel of being a Christian.
Unfortunately, sometimes Christians have adversaries for bad reasons. Rather than having an enemy because a Christian is living worthy of the Gospel, they have enemies because they are doing stupid stuff.
Here are three bad reasons to have adversaries.
- Weird or ecentric behavior
- Off message
I am not going to site a specific behavior lest I wound a believer unnecessarily. But there are Christians who think the gospel manifests itself through acting out in culturally awkward ways. Do you know why Napoleon Dynamite was so funny? It was because it was filled with weird people. We don't want to be Napoleon Dynamite Christians.
Unfortunately, there are Christians who have adversaries because they are ill-informed. They end up spouting off with opinions that are outdated or misguided. Sometimes this is seen when Christians share fake news on social media. Other times we see Christians quoting studies that have been subsequently been disproved of found to be false. There is also the scenario where Christians are caught up with conspiracy theories. If you have adversaries because you are an ill-informed Christian this is your fault and not the suffering Paul was promising.
Off Message Christians
We see this most often on social media as ethics are debated within society. When SCOTUS was weighing and approved gay marriage Christians went crazy condemning the gays. A majority of the Christian media posts were championing a moral standard rather then the gospel message. This is an example of getting off message. Yes, Christianity has a moral standard. But the moral standard isn't our primary message.
We also see Christians getting off message when they promote nationalism mixed with Christianity or a political candidate mixed with a Christian endorsement. Again, our faith touches on all parts life; including politics. But if our political convictions become our primary message and we pick up adversaries because of that it isn't the suffering Paul promised.
Let's be a people who live as citizens of the God's Kingdom. Our King is Jesus and we champion his charter: the gospel. We will have adversaries. We will suffer. But let's not suffer for bad reasons.