On Being Persecuted

Many of you who read this blog read my associate Geoff Henderson’s blog as well. Geoff and I are in some respects as different as… well, I wanted to insert a clever simile, but Geoff recently used the most creative simile I’ve seen in some time, so I’m hesitant to try and top him. (He remarked that two sermons we preached apparently “went together like the Tampa Bay Rays and first place.” How can I top that?) We are different, but in other ways we are very much alike.

Geoff has run a very interesting reflection on persecution as a measure of our Christian faithfulness. If you’ve not seen it, you can read it here, here, here, and here. He wrestles with the question in a challenging way and as he does he acknowledges that sometimes Christians can be too timid (that shoe fits comfortably) and others can be bold to the point of obnoxious.

Apparently wrestling with proper Christian demeanor is not a new struggle. There in the back is Jonathan Edwards raising his hand to be recognized. Yes, Mr. Edwards?

“There is a pretended boldness for Christ that arises from no better principle than pride. A man may be forward to expose himself to the dislike of the world, and even to provoke their displeasure, out of pride. For ’tis the nature of spiritual pride to cause men to seek distinction and singularity; and so oftentimes to set themselves at war with those that they call carnal, that they may be more highly exalted among their party. True boldness for Christ is universal and overcomes all, and carries ’em above the displeasure of friends and foes; so that they will forsake all rather than Christ and will rather offend all parties, and be thought meanly of by all, than offend Christ. And that duty which tries whether a man is willing to be despised by them that are of his own party, and thought the least worthy to be regarded by them, is a much more proper trial of his boldness for Christ, than his being forward to expose himself to the reproach of opposers. The Apostle sought not glory, not only of heathens and Jews, but of Christians; as he declares (I Thess. 2:26).

“He is bold for Christ, that has Christian fortitude enough, to confess his fault openly, when he has committed one that requires it, and as it were to come down upon his knees before opposers. Such things as these are a vastly greater evidence of holy boldness, than resolutely and fiercely confronting opposers.”

Religious Affections, page 352 (The contractions are Edwards’ own. That’s the way he did ’em.)

Thank you Mr. Edwards. I believe your sentiments echo well those spoken by Mr. Henderson. However, I think you would agree as well that timidity, my own and others, easily grows from the same root, our insidious pride.

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