The mark of the beast and love for the Lord

Nothing about the book of Revelation here; I borrow the apocalyptic phrase to note that I’ve been written up. Marked as a false teacher. Relegated to the scourge of the earth. All because of who I associate with.

Amazing it’s not happened before now. Well, there have been one or two who took potshots. But nothing as specific and detailed as the X drawn on my forehead this past week.

A beloved friend sent me the link. She was outraged. I’m thankful for her support and for her self-control. Best to ignore such people, I told her, for they feed off of attention. For all their shrillness, they’re a small group and, blessedly, not many pay them much mind these days.

So we’ll keep on doing what we’ve always done. If supporters have a problem, they can ask for clarification or they might decide to terminate their participation in the gospel. The latter course of action has been taken before, and best that they do so, “that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored” 2 Thes 3.1 ESV.

No one likes losing support, of course. It happened to us twice in recent months, once because of congregational cutbacks, another because of dissatisfaction with our methods. It hurts, and in some ways holds the work back. But fewer material resources are to be preferred over disagreement about the message or methods. The word of God is not chained to the amount of support received, cp. 2 Tim 2.9.

All God’s servants face accusations, persecutions, and reprisals at some point along the way, 2 Tim 3.12. They refuse to develop a complex about it. Jesus orders them to rejoice when people say all kinds of evil things about them falsely, Mt 5.10-12. If they are true peacemakers, God will call them his children, v. 9. His calling them so makes it so. Not so the insults of others.

It is before God that his servant stands or falls, Rom 14.4. No human opinion determines eternal destiny. Answers must be made to the Lord. God’s workers strive to please him, Gal 1.10. Let others judge and condemn, as they will, the faithfulness of the Lord’s co-workers. The Lord’s servant will place no stock in such judgments, Col 2.16. The true course was set long ago, 1 Cor 2.2, and it will be maintained.

God tests those whom he calls, Gen 22.1. He purifies the hearts and motives of his people. In the fire of opposition and suffering, he refines them, 1 Pet 1.6-7. His children ought to consider opposition as the Father’s discipline, Heb 12.1-13.

Ours is a labor of love, 1 Thes 1.3. The love of Christ controls us, 2 Cor 5.14. We strive to “maintain [ourselves] in the love of God, while anticipating the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that brings eternal life” Jude 21. It is our goal “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” Eph 3.19, so that we may join with John in praise:

“To the one who loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood and has appointed us as a kingdom, as priests serving his God and Father—to him be the glory and the power for ever and ever! Amen” Rev 1.5b-6.

¶ I have a whole section in my personal TiddlyWiki on daily attitudes I strive for. It’s supposed to be read daily. I’m brushing it off and taking a new look at it. Maybe it will encourage you some way. (This is my translation from the Portuguese.)

  • I rejoice in Christ.

  • I thank God the Father for every good gift from his hand and for every opportunity to draw near to him.

  • I live to glorify God and serve my neighbor, beginning with my spouse.

  • I feel compassion toward the needy and choose to show love to all, especially to the family of faith.

  • I am guided by the truth of Scripture and commit myself to follow Jesus wherever he may lead me.

  • I depend upon the Holy Spirit for strength as I breathe the heavenly air of his words.

  • Having Christ, I have it all; I seek to share his divine fullness with everyone around me.

¶ It’s an old joke, but still comes in handy: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. (Is that now politically incorrect?) It’s quite a good principle to apply in general to life and to many a project. Take one step at a time. Break tasks into smaller parts. It worked on a writing project that got finished yesterday, a 110-page work on Psalm 119. So how about you: What do you need to “eat” one bite at a time?

¶ In Brazil, “religion” refers to organized, denominational religion. Many are tired of that. They see the authoritarianism and materialism in it. They know much of it is false. So our people here often advertise Bible courses that are non-religious—meaning that there’s no connection to denominational doctrines. It seems to be a good way to work around people’s prejudices and take advantage of their distaste for what we know to be religions that do not please God. There is, after all, a chasm between what people practice and what the Lord desires.

#corollaries, #criticism, #good-attitude, #religion