The Ugly Side of Christianity
Matthew 10:16-17 KJV) Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
There is nothing more inspiring than reading about the miracles that Jesus performed and learning from His wonderful teachings. The result always brings hope and joy as well as a desire to do as He did.
In verse 16 of our text the disciples were sent out for the purpose of preaching the gospel, healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the lepers, casting out demons and saving the lost.
However, that assignment could not be accomplished without a measure of risk. Jesus warned them that they would be challenged by what He described as wolves, which are the natural enemy of the Word. In other words, they could expect some measure of persecution from the rulers of darkness because light always offends darkness.
The next thing that makes this assignment difficult is what Jesus said was going to happen in verse 17. He told the disciples they would also be persecuted in the synagogues by their leaders. As a matter of fact the most severe persecution a believer can experience is from the religious. That means that not only would the disciples be challenged by the world, but they would also be challenged by the religious. Preaching the gospel, healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the lepers, casting out demons and saving the lost, antagonizes the unbeliever regardless if they are in the world or the church.
My future nephew shared a story with me the other day that not only provoked the title of this Meditation but even made me feel guilty as a Christian. After hearing his story I became aware that no matter how much we may be dedicated to the things of God, we are still capable of making heartless and unwise decisions.
After seventy-six years of his parents being happily married, his mother passed away. His parents had faithfully attended their church for many years and in fact his father had been a respected elder in that church. His father was not only a respected leader in the church, but he was also a successful businessman who was very generous in his giving for all of those years. As a matter of fact, because of his generous giving he probably gave enough to have actually built the church.
When my future nephew’s mother passed away he and his brother made a simple request to the other leaders of the church. They asked to be allowed to bring a piano in the church and have a couple of old hymns played and his mother’s favorite song sung. The reason such a request was made was because his mother loved piano music.
The request was denied by the elders because they did not believe in having instruments in the church. It did not matter that his aging father had been a faithful leader as well as a generous contributor for all of those years…a rule is a rule.
After hearing this story I became more aware that even though Christianity itself is beautiful…sometimes Christians are not. Many times the same Christian that is normally beautiful and warm is also capable of being ugly and uncaring. Why? Because spiritual maturity and growth is a journey that each of us must take.
It is possible in our desire to be right that we actually break the hearts of others by our cold religious attitude and ways without being aware of it.
Heal the broken hearts of those who have been wounded by those of us who have acted religiously rather than out of a Christian heart. Mature us quickly so others can see You in us rather than some religious rules.