On a state or secular college campus, the atheistic professor has complete freedom to spout his religious views without protest from the students or interference from the dean. Let a Christian instructor relate his personal story to inform the students of his worldview so they can better understand where he’s coming from, and he’s harassed and soon out of a job.
At a convocation of students on the average secular campus, freedom of speech and the First Amendment are championed. Let a student stand and own up to being a follower of Jesus Christ who attempts to live by the Bible, and he/she is hooted down.
Ironic, isn’t it, the hostility that those of a secular bent have toward belief in Jesus Christ.
It’s more than just a prejudice, however. It’s a full-blown hatred.
That hatred is born of a fear of Jesus.
If you have ever read the gospels and wondered how in the world things in that remote day came to the point where reasonably-minded people moved to arrest and crucify the Lord Jesus Christ, He who never lifted a finger against a human on the planet, the Prince of Peace, then take a look around you.
Human nature has not changed in the last 2,000 years.
Look at the way militant gays feel threatened by a Baptist church where the people inside are seeking to live as Jesus did and by His teachings. The believers inside that congregation would never hurt a fly, yet they are vilified as the enemy by the protestors outside who hurl profanity and insults in their direction.
They hate the church for the same reason the religious leaders of the first century opposed Jesus: they fear righteousness.
That surprises a lot of Christians.
Something inside us expects the world to welcome our goodness, to rejoice that we have turned from a life of self-destruction and fragmentation to wholeness and health. As followers of Jesus, we are gradually becoming all about love and generosity and forgiveness and serving. What could possibly be wrong with that, and how could anyone feel threatened by it?
The answer is simple: we’re also about Truth.
And the Truth is what threatens them.
In the first place, the idea that anyone could claim to know the Truth they find offensive. Truth is relative, they insist, and what is true for you might not be for me.
When you responde that Truth is embodied in a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, and spelled out in print, in the Holy Scriptures, they go ballistic. The very idea. They immediately start looking for faults in order to construct their case around. Finding no fault in Jesus — they couldn’t then (see John 18:38) and they can’t now — they turn to the Scriptures. Unable to find anything in the New Testament they can use against believers other than some comment of Paul’s on women, they quickly move into the Old Testament and have a field day. The Lord flooded the world, the Lord commanded the Jews to kill the Ammonites, a prophet cursed some children, the list goes on and on.
Followers of Jesus get discombobulated at this point. How are we to respond? Or, are we to respond at all? And why are they acting toward us as though we are the enemy when we have finally become people of good will and love?
(Incidentally, Webster’s says “discombobulated” is a good word, means “frustrated,” and has been used since the 1820’s.)
Down here in the swamps where I live, believers wonder why humanists and atheists attack as Nazis the generous people who have come to New Orleans by the thousands to help us rebuild this hurricane-ravaged city?
We know the answer to that question: it’s all about them and their pleasure.
Lois was the sweetest, gentlest member of the church where I pastored. When a transient family arrived in town seeking assistance, and when the husband and wife indicated they would welcome employment and a chance to get on their feet, our people sprang into action, led by Lois. My secretary, Dottee, had a vacant rental house where they could live. Lois and the ladies from the church furnished it, and someone found the man a job. We felt we were making a genuine difference and not just sending them on their way with a tank of gas and a sack of groceries.
One day, driving down the street Lois spotted the man and his wife going into a tavern carrying their toddler with them, a clear violation of the law protecting minors. She mentioned this to a friend in our church who worked for the child protection authority. Their office checked into this couple’s history and discovered they had other children who had been taken away from them for negligence over recent years. They called a hearing, and we from the church attended. Lois had to get on the witness stand and tell what she had seen.
The husband and wife whom Lois had knocked herself out to help vilified her, calling her names, and attacking her character. The courts removed the infant from that home and we asked the couple to leave the house we had been providing. Nothing about this sordid business gave us the least amount of satisfaction.
Outside the courtroom that morning, Lois was in tears. All she had done was to try to bless that family, and look how it turned out. She who lived for Christ and by the law of love had tried to do the right thing every step of the way. She could not believe the way the couple had attacked her.
“Pastor,” she said, “Why would they say such hateful things about me? That hurt so much!”
I said, “Lois, are you better than Jesus?”
“What a thing to say, Pastor! You know I’m not.”
“Well,” I said, “Jesus said said the servant is no better than the master. They treated me this way, so you can expect the same.”
It’s one of the hardest lessons in life to learn.