Persecution Complex

burned

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)

Paul was a neat guy most of the time. He basically invented Christianity, for one thing. (Jesus was a great poster boy for sure, but without Paul as his public relations guru it’s questionable if Jesus would have gotten much attention outside of the Jerusalem crucifixion circuit.) Paul was a rambling kind of guy who hitchhiked the Roman empire and even visited the third heaven. (He never made it to Spain, but I’ll bet he’d have kind of liked the music.) Paul wrote so much of the New Testament that they had to throw out a bunch of other cool stuff just to make room. He had powerful connections, and if you crossed him you got yourself handed over to Satan for some roughing up. The fact of the matter is that Paul pretty much dominated the first century hip spiritual scene. He was the Steve Jobs of religion.

Even so, what are we to make of this little gem from his overactive martyr-drive? It’s understandable that Paul would be a little sensitive to the persecution issue; he was, after all, hunted, chased, jailed, stoned, and beaten to a pulp. Nobody’s going to begrudge the guy a minor mojo on the matter. But still, to say that everyone who wants to do the Jesus tango is slated to get their butts kicked? Was he serious or just touched by an angel?

First of all, we have to define “godly life.” If Paul means actually acting like Jesus did, well, then, of course people are going to nail your heinie to a tree. Good grief. What do you expect? Anybody who wants to play Jesus and go around woeing people and sticking their noses into other people’s business are sure as shootin’ going to get themselves a little persecution. Even I—who consider myself as good a Christian as can reasonably be expected in this day and age—even I would be willing to persecute some of the more obnoxious examples of Christian buffoonery. I’m guessing a few public crucifixions would shut those suckers up quick. But perhaps Paul means those Christians in other countries who get killed and otherwise inconvenienced for it. Well, that’s a definite bummer, for sure, but that’s them, which works out good for us.

In the civilized world most Christians have learned to get along with culture. We even have cool people on our side like Bono. And all the movie stars thank Jesus when they win an award. Even normal Christians have few problems any more. Oh sure, there are the dork Christians out there, but they embarrass the rest of us and don’t really count. Yes, we do have our fish stickers and big churches and t-shirts—we’re Christians, after all—but for the most part we mind our own freaking business and get saved without bothering everybody else in the process. If Paul would have gotten that concept into his zealous head he’d probably have stayed out of jail and had his own travel magazine.

Basically, if we take Paul at face value, we end up with a ridiculous conclusion. If everyone who lives a godly life in Christ will be persecuted, then by inference those who are not persecuted must not be living a godly life in Christ. What’s that supposed to mean? If I have a nice life, thank you very much, does that mean I’m some lame pretend Christian? Does feeling awkward count? I’ve felt awkward about being a Christian, especially when watching R-rated movies or driving over the speed limit. Does that count as persecution? You can see just how wacked Paul could get. He may have been an expert in first century Jew-turns-Jesus freak, but he obviously has little to say to Christians in the 21st century.

Paul was a decent theologian, but as a lifestyle coach he most definitely sucks.

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One Response

  1. Persecution needs defining too. Such things as being by-passed for a promotion because you hold fast on some Christian principles;being called “goody-goody” amongst peers for not participating in some questionable activities; “humorous” remarks
    to get a laugh at your stand; et al; can certianly fit the definition for the 21st Century Christian persecution. Psychological hurts often take longer to heal than physical.

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