Radical, Fanatical or Faithful?

Huey P. Hartsell
Corinth, Mississippi

While upon this earth Jesus was misunderstood, slandered, persecuted and crucified. The masses viewed him as an impostor and fanatic. The Jews accused him of blasphemy, gluttony, and winebibbing. They charged him with having a devil and said that he wrought miracles by the power of Belzebub. After living among men for about 33 years he was betrayed by one of his own into the hands of a mob. His arrest was followed by a speedy "trial" in which the principles of justice were flouted. After suffering cruel mocking and scourging, he was compelled to bear his own cross. Finally, to the delight of a jeering crowd, he was subjected to the shameful, painful, humiliating death of a criminal.

Jesus suffered "such contradiction of sinners against himself . . ." even though he lived a perfect life. While the world looked upon him as a radical fanatic, he was "faithful to him that appointed him . . ." and God was well pleased.

From the life of Christ we learn that persecutions are the lot of those who obey God. We also see in him a perfect example of what our reaction ought to be to such trials. The apostle Peter writes, "For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously" (1 Peter 2:21-23).

In New Testament times devout Christians were considered to be strange and they were reproached by the evil-speaking worldlings. They were generally looked upon as extremists. The true church was counted a sect and everywhere was spoken against. (Acts 28:22). Paul and Silas were accused of turning the world upside down. Festus charged Paul with being out of his mind. This peerless apostle to the Gentiles suffered all kinds of perils, abuse, and ridicule for the name of Christ.

Those today who are totally committed to the Lord's way in all things are scorned, despised, and misrepresented. It is a sad fact that some of this opposition comes from brethren who are no longer content to do the Lord's work in his way. Whatever the source, faithful Christians should not be dismayed or intimidated by the cries of "radical," "fanatic," "anti," etc. They should rather as the servants of Christ gladly endure, to a small degree, what their Master suffered, in the hope of finally being glorified with him. Paul said, ". . . if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him" (Romans 8:17).

The evaluation that God makes of our lives is the thing that counts for eternity. To hear him say "well done" will be worth whatever price faithfulness demands. Let us study to show ourselves approved unto God. (2 Timothy 2: 15). Let us determine to be faithful to him no matter what men may say or do. And "if ye are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are ye -, because the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God resteth upon you." (1 Peter 4:14). When persecuted for righteousness' sake, think of the reward in heaven and press on for the crown of glory. Jesus said, "Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you." (Matthew 5:11,12).

July 26, 1973