Don’t Let Haters Be Your Validators

By Joel A. Hess

Often during the election year, I find myself drawn to the political candidate whom the left hates the most. Well, not the intellectual left, as I respect the left, but the Miley Cyrus, Sean Penn, and Rachel Maddow shallow-screaming left. But is that a good strategy for picking a political candidate? Of course not!

Sadly, many in the various church bodies allow hate to validate their beliefs and actions. Last year, a Jehovah’s Witness family came by while I was working in the garden. They shared the ‘good news’ with me. I began to gently lead them to see Jesus as God and savior. They saw where I was going and got a little red. I shared the full Gospel of God dying for sinners. They asked if we could agree to disagree, to which I said “No, you can’t really do this with Jesus. He’s kind of egotistical.” Well, they left in a huff. And I am sure they enjoyed their ‘persecution.’ To be persecuted is one of the goals of Jehovah Witnesses. They claim that it validates their theology because, after all, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for my sake…”  They love it when hate validates. It’s actually a central teaching of their cult and many other cults.

Recently, I read an article where the author invited his readers to make sure the ‘right’ people hate them. He rightly noted that, while many leftist and anti-Christian communities hate Christianity today, it was not those sort of people who tangled with Jesus in Scriptures. In other words, we don’t find a gay couple taking Jesus to court for not making a wedding cake, or an atheist picketing a Jesus symposium while He proclaims to be God. Instead, those who hated Jesus and persecuted him were those who were ‘in’ the church, not ‘outside.’ Jesus’ haters were those who believed in God, knew His law well, but were really mad at Jesus’ interpretation of God’s grace.

Therefore, the writer suggested that the reader should re-evaluate what he is teaching if his haters are ‘the world.’ Perhaps the reader should be confident in what he believes if people within the church hate him. You know, ‘those’ legalists.

law (1)

While I definitely get the writer’s impulse, this advise lacks logic. Don’t let hate validate, ever! Just because the ‘right’ people hate you doesn’t mean you are right. Let Scriptures validate.  Those who hated Jesus were ALWAYS people who didn’t want to let go of their sin. And they enjoyed a social status that reinforced their self-righteousness. The Pharisees’ central fault was not that they were hung up on other people’s sins or Jesus’ grace for sinners. Oh, they were definitely upset about both; however, their foundational error rested on their inability to see their own sin and need of mercy.  If they would have understood that, they would have understood Jesus.

Pharisees are not just within the church but also without! There are atheist Pharisees, militant LGBTQRSY Pharisees, High Church Pharisees, and cowo-charismatic Pharisees, etc.

The world hates Jesus, His teaching (all of Scripture), and His Church ultimately because we are all born haters of God. As haters of God, we all tend to hate to be corrected, to be told we are wrong, or to get knocked of our horse. Oh, I know, dear reader. You know better, as you love to hear that you are a stuck in the primordial mud sinner saved by grace alone. But that Pharisee lurks in you. That ole Adam will cling to anything to avoid being completely evacuated of all his pride. That ole Adam needs to get his ass kicked, not just through God’s Word, but in life in order to let go. I hope you have experienced this in your life at some point.

So don’t be surprised or upset when people hate you or the church. It may mean you are speaking the truth, or it may mean you are talking like a self-righteous bully. Surely you should reflect on that, but don’t ever let haters be your sole validators. There’s always going to be all kind of haters.  May God’s Word be the only mirror you look in.

JaggedWordLogo2

8 thoughts on “Don’t Let Haters Be Your Validators

  1. Interesting remarks, and I get what you are saying. However, I think the real wake up call for Christians in America today is not so much the hatred and hostility of the LGBT bigots who will stand for nothing less than full affirmation of a sinful lifestyle, nor is it the contentious religious intolerance of the left, or the growth of secularized liberal churches which have reconstituted the substance and the truth of the Gospel to support a socially acceptable and politically correct belief system. No, while these things have been percolating in America, as they already enveloped Western Europe, we are living in the middle ages of a Post Christian time. You surely must see how America has changed, how we have entered a culturally decadent period. Move through the hundreds of cable channels on your TV and see for yourself how the substance of American values has become almost unfit for observation, unless one revels in the paganized direction of entertainment media. The impact of these profound changes cannot help but affect the church, including the LCMS, and the preaching of the Gospel. I think your reference to Jesus and the gay wedding cake remark is downright silly and not relevant. The simplicity of the Gospel does not ever say we should hate unbelievers ever, but we must still stand for righteousness and light….even while others wish to accuse us of being judgmental for merely stating what Our Lord has taught us. In the final analysis, as unbelievers and secularists continue their assaults on Christianity, as LBGT’s and their sympathizers intrude into the simple privacy of having your daughters and wives enter a rest room without being followed by a six foot male transgender, then you must wake up to the real issues of our day.,,,,because it will get much worse, and religious persecution will come to test your faith.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think the guy is all wet, honestly. There have been times when inside the church haters have been there (Reformation stands in my mind, among many others), but their haters have only been marginally murderous compared to what the world has done to Christians. Early Romans, Muslims have always been a problem – if occasionally in the quieter margins, some nations of the Far East, and certainly in Africa there have been enormous efforts to make sure Christians are martyred for their faith.

    I don’t see how any of the haters come as a surprise. We had clear warning from Jesus’ own mouth on this. That news comes with “Love your enemies” and “Pray for your persecutors,” etc. We were also warned that it would get worse. That does not mean we should roll over and pretend it’s OK, or that we should let it ride since it is hard to oppose in its inevitability. We have duties as parents, duties as citizens, duties as evangelizers and disciplers. Christian thinking from Christian theology brings forth Christian activity and inevitable conflict. I agree, Joel, we should let the Word of the Lord guide our hand. The rest of this stuff is up to God to handle, as he promised.

    Like

  3. As always, thank you for your words, Joel. That Adam has been rearing his ugly head quite a bit lately, and I have been using words you told me a long time ago to tame that lion – “Let scripture validate!”. Especially for those who are in the church, this is by far the best tactic…for them and for me!

    Like

  4. Some of you use the term “haters” as a generalized generic social code word and you apply it too liberally, sprinkling it around like it is a valid accusation to apply generousl. Hateful and disagreeable attitudes can permeat dialogue when one wants to castigate opposing viewpoints. Today, many on facebook opt to call people with traditional values, Baptists, conservatives, as “haters” as opposed to themselves…being ofcourse against such values and non-haters. In the matter of the church, those inside the church who disagree with a certain issue can be freely labeled “haters” by those who oppose them. Was Martin Luther a “hater” for questioning Papal infallibility? Of course not. I think this word “hater” is used too thoughtlessly these days. True hatred for others because of who they are or what they say can be sinful, however, if it is not hatred but “righteous anger” directed at a heretical issue…than one must look more closely before judging one as a “hater.”

    Like

  5. I think it most important to distinguish the Church from the world. When the Church stands as clearly different, people may hate but the call will go out. When the Church is like the world, being moralistic, pharisaic, judgmental, condemning, graceless, unforgiving, it engenders animosity from competing moral systems and engages in debates, seeks recourse in earthly laws, the support of the state.

    In living our vocations and working in the world, we should remember God’s Word: “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)

    Since we are all guilty of breaking all of God’s law (James 2:10), we are all guilty of these enumerated sins and it is only through the means of grace that we can feel the weight of our sin, come to confession, and receive grace. Only in the Church can we be cleansed so that we are not left to be judged with the world. We should desire that no one suffer God’s wrath. To that end, we need to welcome sinners of every kind and encourage them to hear so that they may be saved. At times, that may mean smiling and loving disagreement. It means relating to people so that the Word comes across and is not shut off by our ugliness. It means serving them in their every earthly need. It never means preaching God’s Law through civil laws and political activism. At the very least, criminalizing creates sympathy and martyrs and replaces sin with illegality. We should endure anything thrown at us, any moral affront to our sensibilities in order to offer God’s grace to the most stubborn sinners.

    Who has made us? God. How has He made us? Male and female. How do we know this? His Word. Is this a rational foundation for the laws of a state? No. Does the legal definition of marriage change God’s? No. Otherwise God must have intended no fault divorce. All arguments to the contrary concerning sexuality and worldly pharisaism call on personal beliefs, individual liberties, private revelation, “rights” of association. Against “personal”, “individual”, “private” and “rights”, the Church presents confession, life in Christ, Scripture, and gifts. The sharper the distinction between the Church and the world, the brighter the light shines from the hill.

    Like

    1. Agree. Nothing unbiblical about your approach. However, you must read the whole word of God and apply it. Looking at the the lives of the prophets, I am sure some will say they might have been more passive and tolerant in their admonitions, after all, someone might accuse them of being “haters” for criticizing the social and moral leadership of their day. Elijah and John the Baptist were “haters” to a few people. Some would prefer today’s pastors be passive, reserving their best sermons for the privacy of the worship service and the captive audience of like minded Christians. In the world, the pastor must get along, not be judgmental but tolerant, and if he must talk about sin at all, not to the larger society. And that….is how a whole nation eventually loses the light of God’s word.

      Like

      1. The prophets were speaking to a nation and people, the congregation of Israel, that was one and the same thing. The Church, on the other hand, grew fervently under persecution, not harmony, with government and the world. It took in the world’s rejects and endured worship in secret, underground, in fear. The donation of Constantine led to “Christendom” and the institutionalization of the Church. In short order, the Church assumed a position as a worldly nation among worldly nations. It created princes and a hierarchy, it went to war, it governed, it installed rulers. Eventually, we had Reformation.

        In the US, we still suffer the hangovers from, not only, the Enlightenment but an un-Lutheran Christianity (Congregationalism, Puritanism, Presbyterianism, Methodism) which are still single-kingdom, believe strongly in church-state ties, and seek to use the church as a moral platform, preaching a law of behavior. These are the roots of liberal, reductionist theology and the backlash of fundamentalism. It is an error to believe that, based on some conformity of the mid-20th century in the act of going to church that there was a higher point of morality in society or that by deist lip service there were any greater godliness at any time. That mid-century flowering gave us “In god We Trust” and one nation “under God”, but even non-Christians could assent to this undefined and nameless deity adopting the well-taught civil position that one’s personal ideas of god can exist peacefully alongside revealed god as long as not one was “godless.” In other words, we have institutionalized idolatry. Are our pastors railing at this? First Commandment falls and the others have no weight beyond a rational decision to accept one or the other as being a legal issue – isn’t that a serious issue? Should we be insisting, first, on the Triune God being the one and only God that “God” ever refers to and seek public acknowledgement? Should it flow that faiths not embracing this and Jesus as God’s Son be silenced in order that freedom for our faith be sovereign? So, is the issue really religious freedom for all consciences, even those who believe in a personal revelation against scripture? Or is it our agenda, to co-opt the state into the Church’s mission so that “American” is synonymous with “Christian”? Will the Lutheran confessions then come into the cross hairs of those seeking a hegemony based on the most populous Christian denomination in the name of purity? I hear many people rail against social gospel for fear of works righteousness who then go about social law as if one must have righteous works. Looking for validation outside of scripture – in society, in the laws of the state, in agreements with temporal authorities – we seek a master other than Christ.

        From the pulpit, before the congregation, as the prophets did, the pastor does speak to sin and also preaches the Gospel in answer to it. In the Church, there is absolution, there is Word, there is sacrament, there is confession. Enumerating the sins of those outside the Church is, as St. Paul records, not the role of the pastor. All the sins of mankind are sitting in the pews, every Sunday. Any accusation, however vile, can be leveled at the congregation and every, like Paul, needs the mightiest of all Saviors because we are all the worst of sinners (! Timothy 1:15). Addressing the sins of the outside world only strokes our vanity and our sense of justice and hints that we deserve something. It says to us “At least we are not like them.” And that is at the heart of the Pharisee (Luke 8:9-14). We are the idolaters, the profane, the haters of God’s Word, the disobedient, the violent, the lustful, the selfish, the backstabbers, the discontented. We need to be delivered from our sin and we want others to see our sin, our humble confession, and our righteous Deliverer. We cannot do that if we are shouting damnation at them as if we can pound the Holy Spirit into action. When we love one another, despite our sins, and we love others, despite their sins, God’s love is in action and we are part of His elective process. Love is patient and kind, not bombastic and boastful.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. No one who professes to be a Christian should be shouting and condemning, but we should not be quiet or silent before the world either. It is not being bombastic or boastful to be outspoken about sin and grace, and even if you say it in the kindest and gentlest of ways…we will still be accused of being hateful…since the message which Christ commanded us to preach is still unacceptable and many do not want to hear it.

    Like

Comments are closed.