By Joe Chesser
Somehow or other many of us have bought into the notion that a Christian has to be nice to all people all the time. After all, haven’t we been taught all our lives that love should never be rude, but should always be kind and patient and trusting (1 Cor. 13:4-8)? So, why is it then, that sometimes the disciples in the New Testament, and even Jesus on occasion, seemed to say or do things that were not very nice? For example, in just one speech, Jesus called the Pharisees “hypocrites” and “blind fools” and “brood of vipers” (Matt. 23: 13, 17, 33). That wasn’t very nice. Another time Jesus made a whip out of cords and drove everyone from the temple area, scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables (John 3:12-16). That wasn’t very nice either. Later, Jesus’ disciples were accused of causing trouble all over the world, which threw the city of Thessalonica into a riot (Acts 17:5-8). Hardly a nice reputation or a pleasant situation.
The fact is, as much as we’d like to always be nice, there are times when following Jesus is offensive to others. Sometimes being a Christian requires us to boldly do or say some things that will cause others to hate us. Of course, this does not mean we are to ever be hateful in the way we say it. There is never a time when being hateful is godly nor will be helpful to the cause of Christ. No matter how hateful and vindictive others may be, Christians should never stoop that low.
But ironically, preaching / teaching the good news about the cross and salvation involves some very bad news about human sinfulness, which, for many, makes the cross an offense. Like it or not, people will get ticked off at the cross and those who tell them about it. Jesus warned that this would happen. He warned his disciples that being hated and persecuted would be a part of being his disciple (John 15:18-21). It happened to him. It will happen to us.
Randy Alcorn wrote regarding this: “The danger (for us) comes when we live in such fear of being mislabeled that we don’t step forward as unapologetic and unashamed all-out followers of Jesus … We should do what we believe pleases our Lord, regardless of how it pans out in opinion polls.” Of course we should be as nice as we possibly can. But being nice is not what saves souls. We can be kind and pleasant to everyone around us. We can be well-liked and appreciated for our humanitarian efforts. However, unless the lost are confronted with their sin by the cross and are saved by the blood of Jesus, all the nice things we do for others will make this life more enjoyable, but it will not save their soul. Neither will it be helpful to alter the contents of the gospel to make it some-thing that everyone will agree with. They may like you better, but they will still be lost.Telling people how they can get to heaven is the nicest thing you can ever do for them. They may think that you weren’t very nice to talk about their sin to them. But the Lord knows, and you know, that there is no nicer thing you can ever do for the lost.
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.cofcfruitland.com/