THE DESIGNATED HECKLERS

         What would happen in any of our hallowed church services if someone in the congregation stood up and started heckling the preacher in the name of “correcting” him?

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          Everywhere the Lord went during His ministry He enjoyed support and success, and the joy of knowing He was making a difference in the lives of those He loved.

        Then the hecklers showed up. They couldn’t help themselves. They lived to confront Him, question Him, tell Him He was wrong about everything, complain about Him, call Him names, call His mother names, and generally be ongoing everlasting pests that dogged Him without end.

         They were never satisfied. Every correct answer He gave was never good enough. For the most part He stayed calm and collected, knowing He was dealing with dimwits. They never cared so much about all the good He was doing or could do, but only that He wasn’t doing it their way. He wasn’t teaching their way. He wasn’t teaching what they taught (and thank goodness for that). He didn’t buy in to all their religious stuff. He wasn’t into getting rich off the ministry or turning it into a job. He didn’t care so much about making a name for Himself, so to speak, or standing up for His honor and His character. He knew He was only passing through and that most would reject Him. In that process, He strove to find the few who appreciated Him and were open to His ministry. He came to help but was often treated really bad by incessant detractors.

         There were times when He had to be strong and tell ‘em off. His many rebukathons are never heard in most churches and ministries today. Many ministers wish these powerful and strong words of His that make many nominal believers (themselves included) so uncomfortable, had never been recorded. Such words don’t sound very loving. Though the Lord Jesus IS Love and no one could possibly be more loving, many Christians believe He didn’t sound so loving at all when He ripped the Pharisees and their associated ilk to the core of their being.

HIPPIES IN LEISURE SUITS

      Some churches and ministry organizations have effectively eliminated all things discipleship. They don’t want to mention anything even closely resembling spiritual warfare, hardship, or suffering. Everything is all bright and peachy keen and rainbows and lollipops and many of these people look and act like hippies in leisure suits. These people love everyone who believes exactly as they do.

         “Um, the Lord was crucified. It was a bloody, violent death. All of the original twelve, except apparently, John, died the violent bloody deaths of martyrs. Paul had his head cut off. So did James. So did John the Immerser. Anything like that ever happen around here?”

         Such hate portends the presence of a very violent enemy who will stop at nothing. When given the chance this enemy will kill every real Christian he possibly can. Millions of real Christians have died such a death. They all stood tall. They are all great heroes. Though you rarely hear about it in churches and most ministries, not to mention, obviously the main stream media, real Christians are presently undergoing severe persecution all over the planet and have been for a long time, especially in places like China where they are having a major impact.

         In America, we don’t see this. It is because American Christianity in general is not much of a threat. It is also because we have laws against it. It is because America is the one country in the world that has the highest level of religious freedom written into its founding Constitution. This does not mean there will not be persecution. This does not mean there is not persecution. It only means the persecution comes in a different form. The persecution still comes to the greatest extent that it can and the perpetrators thereof certainly wish they could do much more, as was done to the originals. But alas, the enemies of the Lord are restricted by freedom principles established by our founders and the great American patriots of that time. No other country ever had such great ones and that’s why no other country has our freedoms, especially the freedom to serve the Lord Jesus the way he has called us to do.

DEFINING GREATNESS

         I have an internet friend. His name is Bill. He has a disease that leaves him bound in a wheelchair unable to move or even talk. But he has a blog. He has had it for years. He says what he wants to say. Even though his body almost doesn’t work at all he still manages to speak his heart and lift up the name of Jesus. He would probably wish I would shut up about Him but I appreciate him and see him as a very great man. He is a hero. He has effectively said, “Fine. My health is pretty much gone. But I’m still here. AND I AM GOING TO DO WHAT THE LORD HAS CALLED ME TO DO REGARDLESS.” The enemy will never stop him. Ever.

         Many of us have suffered greatly and suffered great losses. But we go on. We see what happened to the Lord. We see what they did to all the early believers. We see how real Christians are persecuted all the live long day by those who insist on perpetrating suffering to uphold their own beliefs and traditions. Because we have laws in America, all these people can do for the most part is bring insults and attempt to destroy one’s name and character.

         I have another internet friend. Her name is Kat. She is one of those stalwart ones who preach against abortion, including right out on the sidewalks in front of abortion mills. It is her life. The Lord called her to it. She knows many more have been called but most don’t go. It is too hard. They don’t want the hassle. She works extremely hard and is very dedicated. You probably don’t want to know about all the insults and threats she and her associates have suffered. It is pretty much ongoing. She has effectively said, “Abortion is a great evil. It must end. Babies must be saved. AND I AM GOING TO DO WHAT THE LORD HAS CALLED ME TO DO REGARDLESS.” The enemy will never stop her. Ever.

THE REAL GOSPEL

         We know by the Lord’s example what we must do. As Christians we are all called to help Him save the lost. The mature are all specialists by gifting according to the Romans 12 model. Those of us who have been at it a long time have been slandered and reviled, and this never stops. Most people are never a problem. Even non-believers can be quite friendly and charming, and even supportive. There will always be some unbelievers, however, who are quick to strike out and show the hatred in their hearts. But most don’t do this. Those who do are miffed because their beliefs get challenged.

         Well, that’s pretty much what the real Gospel does. It challenges beliefs. When the real Gospel comes to town all the little imps come out of their hovels and start throwing hissy fits. They get their panties in a wad. These are those who have bought into something contrary to the Gospel and do not appreciate being told they have been deceived. The real Gospel thus causes powerful reactions. For one person, it is Good News that sets him or her free and makes life abundant and joyous. For another, it is heresy, and strange and weird and off-putting and evil. One accepts it with open arms and another rejects it with a passion.

        Regarding the Lord’s Gospel preaching method (since He created the Gospel), the following are two differing approaches depending on the audience:

THAT DOESN’T SOUND SO LOVING

         “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” [Matthew 23:23-28] 

BUT DIDN’T YOU JUST SAY…?

         “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” [Luke 6:27-36]

CORRECT SPIRITUAL BEHAVIOR

         From these passages we know there will be designated hecklers and that they must be loved. The Lord taught this. No other curriculum teaches this. Most people think it is impossible to bridge such a contrary gap. The chasm is too wide. You can’t get there from here. Paul wrote:

         Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. [Romans 12:9-14] [1] 

         On the one hand the Lord’s enemies were always coming after Him with a passion with a firm belief that their job was to heckle Him always to prove themselves right and Him wrong. Otherwise they knew they would lose. They had to defend their enterprise, their chosen belief system, and their hand-picked “facts.” On the other hand the Lord said to love them, something no one can really do except with His help. The fact that He loved them did not stop Him from telling them off. But a word of caution here: It is relatively easy to tell someone off. It is not so easy to turn the other cheek. What this means is that the more the designated hecklers come after those they insist are wrong, the more they will be subjected to the same treatment in some form or another from someone or something else. The Lord was strong enough to take it and thus was both strong enough and qualified to dish it out when necessary. (Plus, He was never wrong.)

         The designated hecklers are not lovers because if they were lovers they would not be heckling. What the Lord did during His rebukathons was not heckling. It was telling the truth about their real motivation for the sake of illustrating correct spiritual behavior. But it cost Him. He knew it would cost Him. Loving them was what kept Him from feeling otherwise about them, and that is the lesson.

         It is the triumph of love over hatred and good over evil.

         © 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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Posted on April 11, 2018, in Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. We have learned to speak the Truth in love. We can be cunning, shrewd and always wise. Turn the cheek. Just walk away. All based on our experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit within and about us. How many can stand strong till the end without a personal and intimate “Pentecost” of our own?

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