“I don’t mind a few lies told on me. I don’t mind being rebuked and scorned. The more you lie on me, the more your scorn me – It’s another brick for my brand new [heavenly] home!” ~Rev. Milton Brunson
Most of us who are Christians have felt misrepresented at one point or another. Maybe we felt misrepresented by the media, by co-workers, by acquaintances, or (Heaven forbid) even by other Christians in the church. Regardless of the source, most of us have felt that we were painted out to be something we were not.
In my personal experience, it has been an embarrassment to see so-called “Prosperity Preachers” use the Gospel as a means of financial gain for themselves (see 1st Timothy 6:3-10). In 2011, CBS aired a news story on Inside Edition which showed the lavish lifestyles of these rich and famous preachers. I did not mind their sinful greed being exposed, but it was a poor misrepresentation of who a lot of us really are. I know many saints of God who would give you the shirt off their back and many who do not charge for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have received freely, therefore, they give freely (see Matthew 10:8). It is no sin to give to ministries – but we must look at the ministry’s heart and soul. I know many ministers whose motives are not money-driven, but Christ-driven. This is an entire topic in itself which I plan to address in the near future; but, suffice it to say that it makes the genuine Christian look like a phony when the “bad apples” of the bunch get all the publicity. The media will rarely do a story about the local church who feeds the homeless or who has an outreach to orphans; but they will air headlines about the minister who was arrested or one who fell from grace. Again, the Bible says to be careful what we do in darkness/secret, because it will be exposed in the light openly. So, I do not fault the media for announcing that a minister of the Gospel was caught in sin or arrested – but it does tend to put the rest of us in a bad light.
None of us have lived a sinless life; but we are to strive for perfection in the sight of God. We are God’s ambassadors and representatives here on the earth. Matthew 5:13 says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Matthew 5:16 goes on to say, “…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” I said all of that to say that, sometimes, we bring the negative outlook upon ourselves by our sinful actions, deeds, and words.
However, there are other instances when we do no wrong, yet, still get demeaned. But if a few slanderous words are all the “persecution” we ever endure, then we are really not in bad shape at all. Just think of the martyrs and those who are physically abused for their beliefs in Christ. After we put it all in perspective, we really cannot complain. After all, we are considered to be blessed if we are insulted or maligned for the Gospel’s sake. Luke 6:22-23 says, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.”
It is obvious that we live in an evil day – when people call things “evil” which are actually good. “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter” Isaiah 5:20. Seeing how we live in an evil time, we should not be surprised by Satan’s techniques to tear us down, as Christians. 2nd Corinthians 2:11 says that we are not ignorant of Satan’s evil devices/schemes/intentions. In Barnes’ Notes on the Bible commentary, it states: “We know his plans, his thoughts, his cunning, his skill. We are not ignorant of the great number of stratagems which he is constantly using to injure us, and to destroy the souls of people. He is full of wiles; and Paul had had abundant occasion to be acquainted with the means which he had used to defeat his plans and to destroy the church. The church, at all times, has been subjected to the influence of those wiles, as well as individual Christians. And the church, therefore, as well as individual Christians, should be constantly on its guard against those snares. Even the best and purest efforts of the church are often perverted…”
Personally speaking, none of Satan’s divisive ways surprise me anymore. When the media and/or others misrepresent God and His children, it speaks volumes of their deprived, pitiable spiritual condition. If the world was for us, then they wouldn’t try to demean Christianity as a whole. But, scripture says, “…if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). We may not see full justice carried out immediately for all injustices; but rest assured, God is just and He will have the final word. “For it is written, ‘As I live’, says the Lord, ‘every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God’” Romans 14:11. Furthermore, Hebrews 10:26-31 states: “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Most of us who are Christians would agree that there is very little respect shown to us in the media. But, instead of retaliating and stooping to the world’s level, we are to love our enemies and keep shining bright for our Lord – knowing that He will vindicate us and have the final word. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Any persecution against the Believer comes out of a spiritual clashing… when a good force and a bad force meet. But what justice and joy we will find when the wicked shall cease their troubling! The genuine child of God has an Advocate and will be vindicated.