I referred to a third category of thought in my last post regarding an interesting "conversation" I had with a visitor at church. And by the way, if this post makes no sense, I now officially have no excuse (Connar, my 2 month old, has slept through the night on consecutive nights for the first time in his young career).
This visiting lad spoke to me of persecution in the context of evangelism. Jesus said that we would be persecuted. So did Paul to Timothy in the third chapter of his 2nd recorded correspondence: "anyone who wishes to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."
That's a pretty darn challenging verse. If you are a true Christian (not just professing one), you want to live a godly life. And if the conditions of "A" are met, then "B" will inevitably follow.
The question is what does this look like on a daily level? In other words, how does this persecution come to us? Do we bring it on ourselves through evangelism and the persecution is their immediate response to us? Do we bring it on ourselves by living godly lives, and that inevitably offends people (i.e. not letting people cheat, confronting sin and injustice, etc...)? Or do we bring it on more through our methodology (how we share the gospel, disciple, discipline, teach, etc..) than our theology (understanding of God that we communicate with others)? And if that methodology brings about persecution, should that be subject to change?
First of all, in an attempt to make my blog entries shorter, I will just address one area of this idea of persecution and non-Christians (and unrepentant professing Christians) not liking us.
Let me give an example from my college ministry experience. Most big colleges-and UCF is a big college-have shouting evangelists in the designated "free speech" areas. They shout for people to repent. They really have no clue who they are shouting against. They have no clue of personal struggles, personal idols, or the personal beliefs that are stumbling blocks to even sitting down and talking about the gospel (and these must be addressed or people won't listen).
And they get made fun of. That's not being persecuted for Jesus' sake. That's being persecuted for not loving people where they are at. The shouting evangelist is hyperbole. You're probably not one per se. But if we fail to listen to others (which ticks people off), and simply make them listen to us, I wonder if that's really persecution. It's more likely that we're being persecuted for being a jerk and not loving others well.
So in some ways, I think we may offend people by the methodology, and not the gospel. And that's neither the kind of persecution that is promised nor is it 'good.' So if its only the methodology that's bringing persecution, that ought to be evaluated.