IN LAST week’s edition, we discussed how unbelievers insult and denigrate the Lord Jesus Christ and everyone and everything that is connected to Him including His ministers. In Matthew 11: 19, Jesus was called a drunkard, glutton. In John 10: 20, many people said, ‘He has a demon, and is insane.” Then in Mark 3: 21, Jesus’ own family members joined the insulting brigade saying, ‘He is out of his mind.’ Then, in John 8: 48, 52, He was accused of being a Samaritan and demon.
Now, if Jesus Christ, the man who never sinned or committed a crime suffered these things, what should His disciples who are learning to live perfectly in this world expect? We should remember the word Jesus Christ taught. He said, “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they would also persecute you…” (John 15: 20).
This means if the world insulted the Lord Jesus, we would also be insulted. If they mocked, scorned, arrested, tried and sentenced Him to death, we should expect to suffer the same or similar fate. Christians, therefore, should not be surprised at the series of unprintable insults that are hurled at anointed preachers of the gospel especially in the mass media and social media platforms these days.
Nonetheless, we are not talking about a Christian or minister being jeered for doing evil or committing crimes. We know that punishment is the consequence of sin, lawlessness, wickedness and wrongdoing. For instance, a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife may likely suffer for his evil actions.
We are talking about a Christian being insulted or persecuted for the sake of Christ without sinning against anyone or breaking laws. The apostle Paul was insulted for his faith and the sake of preaching the gospel of Christ. In Acts 26: 24, while Paul was preaching, Porcius Festus “said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” Today, many unbelievers describe ministers as stupid, irrational, disillusioned just for preaching Christ Jesus.
So, now, how should we react to such insults? The Bible helps us to know how our Saviour responded to them. The apostle Peter testified that, “He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly” (1 Peter 2: 23). The prophet Isaiah prophesying concerning the suffering of Christ Jesus said, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth…” (Isaiah 53: 7).
Christ’s manner of reaction to insults and other attacks He suffered is clear for us to learn from. He never paid evil with evil. He never insulted in return or answered His attackers. Instead He kept quiet, entrusted Himself to His Father to judge between Him and His attackers. Indeed, Christ blessed those who attacked Him and kept silent. This He did, first, because He was gentle, meek and humble (Matthew 11: 29).
Second, it seems Jesus Christ knew that no matter what a leader would do or how best he would perform his duties, some people would criticise or insult him. It seems Christ understood that leadership by its very nature attracts uninvited persecutions. Thus Christ never retaliated when His family members, the crowd, and others hurled insults at Him.
Now, how should Christ’s disciples especially Pastors react when they are insulted or made to suffer name-calling even for doing good for humanity? Should we retaliate, insult back, curse, grant interviews to the mass media to defend or tell them our side of the story or we should go to the court to seek justice?
Well, Christ is our standard. He is the one we are following and are commanded to learn from. He tells us to “…learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart…” (Matthew 11: 29). Actually, the Christian is called to study and learn from Christ Jesus. If He never retaliated and kept silent when He suffered insults and betrayal, then, we have no option but to behave the same way He did.
Throughout the Bible, Christ never encouraged His disciples and ministers to pay evil for evil. He never asked us to insult in return. Rather, He said “….if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also…” (Matthew 5:39- 40) Here, Christ is talking about forgiveness. He Himself forgave those who afflicted and crucified Him (Luke 23: 34). So He asked that we forgive those who hurt or offend us. This is why Paul did not insult in return when Festus jeered him.
He also counselled us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5: 44), rejoice in the midst of our afflictions, insults, persecutions (Matthew 5: 11- 12). Yes, Jesus’ wise counsel to His disciples is to rejoice when they are attacked. This reaction may sound stupid, senseless and as a sign of weakness, but it is great wisdom and strength. Silence is often a golden spiritual weapon to confuse and thwart the attacks of the enemy.
In fact, being silent is not a sign of fear or a lack of reason to retaliate, but a great way to proof our faith and total dependence on God, who fights our battles and whose job it is to judge justly and repay vengeance. Sometimes too, being silent neutralises or incapacitates the wiles of the devil.
By James Quansah