The sign of a good Christian is that he is always patient, loving and kind. At least, that’s what I was taught as I grew up, and for the most part, that’s the way of life I was surrounded with. Since my father was a pastor and a missionary in Africa for all of my childhood, I lived in the world of church members and pastors and their families, and most of them fit this description of what a Christian should be.
Only as I grew older did I discover that there had been a lot of jealousy and backbiting under the surface and hidden sins that were not owned up to. It seemed that this idea of a patient, loving and kind Christian was only a mask that people wore.
Years later I learned that this concept of Christianity was greatly lacking. Sure, we need to be patient, loving and kind. But if we want to truly follow in the footsteps of Jesus, there will be times that we will need to behave in a manner that most people do not normally associate with Christianity, but which in fact reveals true faith and reflects the mindset that Jesus demonstrated while He was here on earth.
We are told to love others, but Jesus also taught us to hate the devil and sin, and that if we truly want to follow Him we have to hate this world. When He said that unless we hate our mothers and fathers we are not worthy to be called His disciples, He seems to be teaching us to be insensitive to our parents. When He was asked a question by the Pharisees, He was evasive, refusing to answer their question, because they weren’t looking for the truth but simply for a way to trap Him. He was violent and angry when He cleansed the Temple of the money-changers, and in Jericho, when the blind beggar Bartimaeus was brought to Him, He seemed unreasonable to ask what he wanted, when it was obvious that the poor man needed to be healed. Jesus was socially inappropriate when He went to eat at the house of a well-known thief, Zacchaeus. Instead of keeping His distance from criminals and prostitutes, He went to their houses to eat and allowed them to wash His feet. He was scandalous when He had a conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well who had had five husbands and was at that moment living with a man she was not married to.
Hatred, evasiveness, violence, anger, being unreasonable, socially inappropriate and scandalous are normally seen as ungodly attitudes, when in the right situation they reflect true Godly character. It’s naïve of us to think that living by faith only involves being peaceful, loving and kind. Though we can deal with problems, people and the devil in a variety of ways depending on the circumstances, true faith demands that we always respond in power and authority. That doesn’t mean that we dominate people, but by our faith we take dominion over evil attitudes or spiritual forces that are trying to influence us. There are times that submission or serving others can appear weak to the world, but when used with faith and authority over evil, those attitudes can tear down demonic forces. Jesus was never cowardly, weak or passive, and yet most Christians in this world mistake passivity for humility. They’ve been tricked into believing in a form of Christianity that isn’t even remotely close to the example of the Lord Jesus Christ. But those of us who want to live out a first-century Christianity today must insist on practicing radical faith, and truly following in the footsteps of Jesus.
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. (Romans 16:20)
P.S. Tomorrow we’ll speak about eight more shocking attitudes of Jesus.