Thursday, March 1, 2012

I DEMAND An Apology!

We live in a time where demanding an apology has become a daily occurrence.  This group was offended by that ad or that group was offended by a certain show, and Christians are no different.  We also are guilty of demanding an apology and calling for boycotts every time anything about our faith is ridiculed by the world.  There are three problems with that.  The first is that we are not the ones who are being insulted.
Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It [is] hard for you to kick against the goads."   Acts 9:4-5 NKJV
It is not really us who the world is persecuting, but it is Jesus.  The world is taking its hatred of our Lord out on us.  Please note what Jesus is saying here.  At this point, Jesus was dead.  Furthermore, Saul was coming against the church and there is no evidence that Saul had anything to do with the death of Jesus.  Despite those facts, Jesus accuses Saul of persecuting Him.  The point I am making is that demanding apologies for our offense is a very prideful act. It is Jesus the world is against, so why should the world apologize to us?  If Jesus is not publicly demanding apologies or calling for boycotts, why should we?  Does the world owe US an apology for offending Jesus?  Of course not, and in that we really have no business asking for an apology. 

The second reason is that we are acting as though the world can treat us any differently than it does.
"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before [it hated] you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also." John 15:18-20 NKJV
The world hated Jesus and so it will hate us.  The world is of the flesh and so they will react out of the flesh.  The flesh lashes out against what it hates.  Therefore, the world will lash out on us for its hatred of Jesus.  We will not change that by demanding apologies.  Even if they do apologize, it is about as sincere as a brother apologizing to his littler sister after she tells her mom on him.  At best you get a fake apology.  Are we really that petty to be satisfied by a feigned apology just to get us off their backs?  The world can not change on its own and so it will go on hating us and acting like they hate us until the Lord's return. 

If you really want the world to change, then you have to reach hearts for Jesus.  And that brings me to my third and final point.
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  Matthew 5:44-45 NKJV
Are we being loving when we write nasty letters or go on television demanding apologies?  Is that how you show love?  Is that some strange form of blessing I am not aware of?  We are supposed to bless those who curse us and do go to those who hate us.  If we get involved in boycotts are we doing good for those who hate us?  If anything, we should be doing even more business with them!  That may sound strange, but not any more "strange" than our Father who sends rain on the just and unjust and makes His sun rise on the evil and the good.  If we follow in the example of our Father, than can we really call for boycotts?  Our response should be to reach out to them in love to get them to hear the Gospel and to see the Gospel lived out in our lives.  Our response should not be one to drive them even further away. 

In the end, it comes down to us doing our job while trusting in God to do His job.  Our job is to be the salt and light of the earth.  Our job is the be an ambassador of the Lord in an unbelieving world.  Our job is to share the Gospel with others.  It is not our job to demand apologies, confessions, promises of repentance, or forcing people to change their habits.  Those are God's jobs.  No one has truly sinned against us, all sin is against God.  If there is any apology that is owed, it is to God.  We have no right to demand others to confess their sins to us, those sins are between them and God and God will deal with them.  Am I just saying we should lie down and take it?  Actually, that is pretty much exactly what I am saying. That is called being meek.  Meek may not tickle the flesh, but we are no longer of the flesh but of the Spirit.  Just as Jesus laid down before his persecutors, just as he told us through the Sermon on the Mount to not only allow ourselves to be oppressed but to even go the extra mile with our oppressor, just as Paul and others suffered through persecutions we could not even imagine with all meekness, so should we in the face of our oppressors. 

It is not for us for force someone to repent or change their lives.  We can demand all we want, but it is only the Holy Spirit who can provoke any kind of real change.  The Lord will return one day to deal with our oppressors.  At that point, there will not be enough apologies to cover the debt that they owe our Lord.  For any who do not accept Jesus, justice will be served as God avenges our persecution.  For now, our job is to be living examples of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.  Those words of our Lord are words we all need to take to heart.  For any who do not receive our message of grace, well, that is God's job and in His time, He will repay.
Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The LORD will judge His people."  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  Hebrews 10:29-31 NKJV

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