Other Badges of High Honor

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I recently wrote on the challenge that ministers face in being faithful to a message that engenders hard opposition, on the one hand, and being the kind of man who has a good reputation with outsiders (1 Tim. 3:7), on the other.

What it looks like when your reputation is at ease in Zion.
What it looks like when your reputation is at ease in Zion.

Having written all that, this morning I came across a passage in Paul that highlighted the tension in quite a striking way. I should have cited this passage. I should have made it the centerpiece of my argument. Note my italics.

Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed” (2 Cor. 6:3–9).

Paul’s approach to this whole issue offers a standing rebuke to the culture of our day, including much of the church, which can best be described as the Culture of the Perpetually Offended.

There is clearly a spiritual problem with giving offense, as measured by the Scriptures of God, which is a bad sin, and which results in a discredited ministry. In this category let us put some televangelist bonking various female members of his ministry team, which all came out after he abruptly relocated to Argentina with 500K that was not, strictly speaking, his.

But there is also a pattern of ministry that causes many to claim that offense was given, when it was not given. It was only taken. This would be a ministry that preaches Christ and Him crucified in such a way as to have that gospel collide with the idols of the age. This does not give offense in anything, but does result in things like riots, floggings, imprisonments, and other badges of high honor.

Persecutions are always quagmires of slander. This means that unless you are prepared for your name — your reputation, your testimony, your prestige, your privilege, your eminence, your influence, your character — to be savaged by wild beasts at Ephesus, you are not ready for what will follow after that.

People do write glowing biographies of those who were willing to die for Christ. But this rarely happens to people whose names and reputations did not precede them in death by many years.

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"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago

And how does it feel?
“Like a Rollin’ stone…..”

Bruised but not broken.

See 2 Cor. 4:7-9!

Benjamin Bowman
5 years ago

Doug,

Have you read the book “The Bait of Satan?” by John Bevere?

bethyada
5 years ago
Reply to  Douglas Wilson

All Bevere’s books are good. Now he is Pentecostal, but a thoughtful one. His arguments are not always as tight as they could be, and occasionally he proves a correct principle with the wrong verse. I believe Bait of Satan is how us being offended makes us bitter and how that is destructive for our walk with Christ. Thus Saith the Lord is a critique against people telling others that God said such and such (a problem in charismatic churches). Others are about people not coming under (right) authority appropriately, or leaving churches for wrong reasons (there are right ones).… Read more »

Benjamin Bowman
5 years ago
Reply to  Douglas Wilson

Good, lots of practical teaching. It’s subtitle is “Living free from the deadly trap of offense.”

ME
ME
5 years ago

When Jesus Christ first taught in His home town, the crowds chased him out and tried to hurl Him off a cliff. That’s some good preaching! Personally, I don’t trust people who don’t have at least a handful of villagers trying to throw them off a cliff, because that is a sign of the Truth actually being spoken. The gospel is a bit scandalous and convicting too. One problem in our modern world (or perhaps since forever) is that people seem to confuse that sense of conviction with being shamed. To speak about the value of marriage for example, is… Read more »

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  ME

And thus the nature of the polemic, I mean lynch mob!
????????

Ggg
Ggg
5 years ago

It’s easy to find enemies. This reasoning of I’m being persecuted so I must be doing something right seems like such a cop out. Joel Osteen has a lot of people who oppose him. Hitler had people who opposed him. Etc…. People need to learn to think for themselves. Your interpretation of a situation doesn’t make you right. That’s all it is – your interpretation. Your perspective. No matter what verse you cite or what part you italicize.

Jeremy Klein
Jeremy Klein
5 years ago
Reply to  Ggg

Is what you said about interpretation of situations right? Or just your interpretation/perspective of interpretations of situations? Just because different people say different things about a situation, doesn’t mean that there is no truth about the situation. People need to learn to think correctly.