Jesus told his disciples, If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. Have you ever wondered why modern Christians paint the ancient world as having loved Christ? So often we read that modern Christians are not like Christ because Christ’s culture loved him. Jesus stood up for the oppressed and worked for justice for all the marginalized. Modern Christians do not do that. This is why they loved Jesus in his world but the modern culture hates Christians because they are nothing like Christ. But as one can see, Jesus’ culture did not love him. They hated him. In another place, Jesus said, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.” The world hated Jesus because Jesus told the world the truth about itself: its deeds are evil. Again, Jesus said, “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well.” Apparently, many modern Christians seem to be quite ignorant of Jesus’ relationship with his own culture. It was anything but harmonious. It was so hostile that it ended in Christ’s murder. For some reason, this point is missed by many modern Christians. Not only that, Christ warned his immediate and closest followers that the world would hate them as well. The culture will not receive you with open arms was the message. Jesus warned his disciples that they will hate you, they will slander you falsely, and they will drag you to the courts and kill you just because you are following me.
The post is concerned with the recent behavior of many evangelical Christians, most of whom are celebrity speakers within the evangelical camp. That many of these leaders are watching the culture and hyper-sensitive about what the culture has to say about them matters a great deal to them. For the past four decades since I have been in The Way, I have observed the church’s leaders because more concerned with their reputation and credibility in the culture. Over the last decade, that concerned has increased in dramatic fashion. What the world thinks about the church seems to matter a lot more today than it did when I was first regenerated way back in 1979. I find it extremely difficult to understand how anyone could truly take the life and teachings of Jesus and his closest disciples seriously and care about what the culture thinks about them. In fact, I am tempted to say that if you care about what the culture thinks about you or the church, then you really don’t take the teachings and life of Christ seriously. At best, you just say you do.
There are a number of leaders in the evangelical movement what have completely swallowed the cultural mandate of diversity. Diversity is the holy grail in modern culture. They want diversity everywhere, or so they say. Funny thing is, the one area where diversity matters most, they don’t want it: ideas. If you don’t believe, try having an independent idea of an idea that cuts against mainstream culture and watches what happens. Dare to think that gender neutral bathrooms is a bad idea and see how far you get. But this thinking has made its way into the church. It has made its way into several areas: race, racial diversity, homosexuality, and now, the #MeToo movement.
The push for a never-ending stream of repentance over slavery and racism seems unending as just one example. Even though the loudest voices from certain quarters never suffered from the plague of slavery, you would think they had. The church has been guilted now for the last year over the sins of the past and there are plenty of leaders who care enough about these ungodly opinions and ideas to get in line and placate the complainants. Honesty and acknowledge isn’t enough. Even apologizing for sins they never committed isn’t enough. The culture wants more, demands more, and it won’t shut up until it gets more.
We also see this going on with racial diversity. Many evangelical leaders are now working on strategies to increase the diversity in their communities, their leadership, and in many of the seminaries. Why? Well, its because the pagan culture expects it. There isn’t a shred of Scripture nor principles that can be rightly deduced from Scripture that leads us to conclude that this is the biblical mandate. Not a shred. It is because these leaders care about what the culture says about them. You see, it seems as if these leaders either want their reputation to sparkle or they really believe that the church is doomed unless the culture gives it a passing mark. Both views are unbiblical.
The homosexual movement is not quite as bad, at least not for the true church. And it is the true church that I am concerned about in this post and her leaders of course. Most of the time when a pastor preaches or teaches about homosexuality or gender dysphoria, they have to qualify it with how they have friends who are gay or lesbian and that they love everyone. The church has started to accept the idea of being gay but not acting on those desires. The church has also focused a lot of time on talking about creating safe spaces for homosexuals and this has actually become a strategic focus. In other words, leaders are being more deliberate in making sure their communities are structured in a way that is non-threatening to visitors who may be gay or lesbian. While this may not be a full compromise, it is a compromise. It reflects an abhorrent concern on the part of evangelical leaders with what the culture thinks about them regarding this issue.
Finally, and this was predictable, the #MeToo movement is now forcing these very same leaders to virtue signal as well. These leaders don’t want to be accused of being insensitive to the needs of women so they rush in to make sure they are saying just the right thing so that the culture gives them a passing grade on this issue. One of the most concerning of these is the idea that women should be instructed to divorce an abusive husband. Some leaders have jumped into this conversation and rushed to such support such guidance. This behavior is not only rash, it is spiritually dangerous and biblically incompetent. In the case of physical abuse, of course, a woman should remove herself from physical danger. That is completely consistent with Scriptural teaching. But to move to divorce is a different matter altogether. Additionally, there is a serious problem with the word abuse. It is notoriously ambiguous. The word abuse has to be defined. It cannot be left to the individual female to decide that a certain behavior rises to the level of abuse. That conclusion should be the result of elders/pastors in counseling and must be reached only after serious investigation of the facts. Moreover, divorce is not permitted in just any case of any kind of supposed abuse. The only biblical ground for divorce is sexual immorality or unbeliever abandonment. This does not mean that a woman should place herself in harms’ way. She should not. If she fears for her physical safety, she should remove herself from that situation. Can a woman leave her husband if she deems him to be abusive in other ways? Say emotional or mental or verbally? There is nothing in Scripture that allows for divorce or separation under those circumstances. Yet, we seemingly are witnessing some of these high-profile celebrity pastors and leaders signaling exactly that in some cases.
What should we do if the culture does not like us, or our teaching, or our position on a particular issue? I think it’s pretty simple:
Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. 1 John 3:13