In recent times, people who know me to be a Christian have tagged me in Facebook posts which were clearly anti-Christian.
I was initially angry and wanted to take any or all of the following actions; one, block the profile of that person, send a message warning the person from tagging me in such posts or two, blocking such posts from my wall. I however did not take any of those steps; rather, it made me begin to think about God's mercy and how He must feel when we reject Him.
As if that were not enough, over the weekend as I was listening to radio while driving, a popular radio presenter in London, Ian Dale, expressed his sentiments about the Christian church being homophobic and sexist and asking people to call in and comment. He could not understand why the church refuses to allow women to take the top positions in churches (referring specifically to the Church of England) as well as refusing to accept gay people as active members. A few people called in to debate the issue with him but I did not think it was necessary. He had obviously made up his mind and being gay himself, he had more than a curious interest in the topic.
His prediction is that any organisation with such archaic and obsolete principles, will soon go extinct. According to him, 'Why stick to words written on stone by one bloke who claimed the words were given to him by God?' Speaking further, He declared that Christianity was a creation of man and should adapt to the times by changing it's old rules to suit the modern social trends.
One thing common with these people criticizing the church as well as denouncing God is that they do not want to be judged on the choices they have made. They want total control over their lives and feel accepting that there is a God means ceding some if not all contra, to Him. In the West, people are turning away from God and focusing on self-actualisation. In Africa, people are being told that religion was a tool to make them subservient to the West. After all, they had their own gods before the arrival of the colonial masters who came to impose their own God.
I recently read in an online newspaper an article written by a Nigerian,Femi Aribisala, who incidentally is described as a coordinator of a Christian fellowship. He argues that Paul the Apostle was a liar and a hypocrite and nobody should emulate him. He based his opinion on certain writings of Paul where he made statements, which seemed contradictory on the surface and of course referred to his clash with Barnabas over John Mark. (Acts 15:36-41)
Although we feel sad when people take verses of scripture out of context and adapt their own interpretations. However, all these things happening should not be strange to students of the Bible. They only signify the continued depravity of men as the end draws near. It is quite noteworthy that the same people who insult the Church and the Christian faith, steer clear of doing same to religions known to respond violently to any perceived insult to their faith.
Is God moved by all these verbal attacks against Him? Definitely not! God has given man the free will to decide the choices he wants to make. If anyone chooses not to recognize God, God would not speak from heaven to convince the person otherwise.
In the account of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man passionately begged Abraham to send Lazarus to his brothers to warn them about hell. Abraham told him, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them listen to them' (Luke 16:29) the rich man argued on, 'No father Abraham, they won't listen unless someone from the dead goes to them’. To which Abraham replies, 'if they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead' (Luke 16:31)
Jesus already warned in John 15:18, 'If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as it's own.' (John 15:18)
So, there it is, the lesson I learnt from the above scripture is that there will always be people who will dislike or hate us when they know who we are as Christians. This is one evidence that the words of Jesus are true for all time. It happened then and it is happening now.
What is my own answer to Ian Dale's statements about God and the Church? I will not speak for God because He can take care of Himself. He has been doing that before I ever existed. The Church of Christ hates no one. On the contrary, we are called to love. The cardinal principle of a disciple of Christ is to love the Lord with all our hearts, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all of our strength, and to love our neighbours as ourselves. (Mark 12:20)
Although God loves the sinner, he hates the sin. The reason why the likes of Ian Dale would call the church homophobic is because the church has refused to accept a practice that is clearly forbidden by God in the scriptures which is the foundation for the Christian faith. If this is the reason why the Church is being labelled homophobic, then it means I am homophobic as well.
We cannot as Christians lower the standards of our faith just because men seek acceptance of a practice that runs contrary to our faith. We accept them but we cannot be forced to accept their practice.
Be prepared therefore dear Christian, we would be called all kinds of names because Jesus endured same but in spite of it all, He loved them till the end.
May He give us the grace to follow His footsteps.
Steve Popoola is the editor of Biblepraise Newsletter and the founder of the Biblepraise Fellowship Online at http://www.biblepraise.org. He lives in Kent, United Kingdom, where he works as an IT Professional. He currently serves as a Worship Leader as well as Home Group Leader in his local church and on occasion, speaks at invited events. He is the founder of the Biblepraise Fellowship Online Ministry and Moderator/Editor of the Biblepraise Newsletter. He can be reached through His email address, firstname.lastname@example.org