Blessings and Woes from the Politically and Spiritually Incorrect Lord Jesus Christ, and Naming Names
Obviously the title is tongue in cheek. Jesus was never spiritually incorrect. But in many churches today he would be deemed so if he opened his mouth. They’d love him while he was saying blessings, but if he pronounced “woe to you” they would try to shut him down.
Blessed are you who are poor, because the kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are hungry now, because you will be filled.
Blessed are you who weep now, because you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you, insult you, and slander your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! Take note — your reward is great in heaven, because this is the way their ancestors used to treat the prophets.
But woe to you who are rich, because you have received your comfort.
Woe to you who are full now, because you will be hungry.
Woe to you who are laughing now, because you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when all people speak well of you, because this is the way their ancestors used to treat the false prophets.
(Luke 6:20-26 HCSB)
It’s that “you” word which is so unacceptable in most churches today. It’s fine to reiterate the woes and warnings of Scripture abstractly, but as soon as anyone starts to mention particular people, or to say You! yes you who have these self-complacent character traits and behaviours — woe to you… the “let’s keep it all nice” brigade steps in and shuts down the speaker.
You know how it goes. Between the lines, the messages are: We don’t talk like that in church. We keep it all upbeat and positive. The bad stuff? well, that’s for the pastor and elders to deal with in private and how dare you as a congregational member (and a female to boot!) even allude to it? Keep you impertinent head out of the complicated stuff and just make nice so that everyone will be happy. And why don’t you take the hints and eye-nods I’m giving you? Can’t you see that I’m trying to be discreet and not admonish you in public? You know, you’re really putting me on the spot here by being such a persistent pest in the way you want to talk about things that make everyone uncomfortable!
Jesus said politically incorrect things by modern Christian standards, and so did the writers of the Bible. They not only admonished the evil and self-complacent, calling them “you,” they named them by name.
In his letters to Timothy, Paul names eight such people plus ‘certain persons’ who are not named but their sins are described and denounced most emphatically:
You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. (2 Tim. 1:15 ESV)
avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Tim. 2:16-17)
For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. (2 Tim. 4:10)
Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm (2 Tim. 4:14)
some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Tim. 1:19-20)
The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. (1 Tim. 1:5-7)
And in his letter to the Galatians, Paul not only castigated his readers:
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? (Gal. 3:1a)
he confronted his fellow apostle Peter while many others were present:
But when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Gal. 2:11-14)
Paul isn’t the only one. Listen to the apostle John:
Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church. (3 John 1:9-10)
I could also give many many examples from the Old Testament; here is one. After subduing the Canaanites, Deborah and Barak sang a song of victory. But their song was not just rejoicing; they also scornfully named the four Israelite tribes who had failed to join in the battle:
Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings of heart. Why did you sit still among the sheepfolds, to hear the whistling for the flocks? Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings of heart. Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan; and Dan, why did he stay with the ships? Asher sat still at the coast of the sea, staying by his landings. (Judges 5:15-17)
At ACFJ we name names of well known Christians (or ‘c’hristians) whose teaching harms victims of abuse. That is possibly one reason even many good ministers act like we barely exist. Keep it nice. Let Jeff Crippen and Barbara Roberts and their little group minister to the desperately wounded victims of domestic abuse. Yes, it’s good they do that. But let’s not endorse them publicly or comment on their blog because they strongly condone divorce for abuse and they name names!
Update: Related post