What comes in this post is an idea I’ve wrestled with since my first exposure to the scathing rebukes of Contemporary Christianity found in the works of A.W. Tozer, Leanord Ravenhill, G.K. Chesterton, and several others.
Throughout history, the most scathing and aggressive commentators on the flaws of the Body of Christ in each era have been those who loved the church far more deeply than their contemporaries or those who hated Christianity with such fury that the Body of Christ was sanctified by God through the fires of that hatred. We would have had no reformation if Luther, and others did not love the Body of Christ enough to call themselves and others out of the darkness of sin with the light of the Gospel. The Gospel is something that burns and cuts at the necrotic flesh of our sin and it hurts as much as it heals. The difference is that the Gospel heals our spirit and sanctifies or makes perfect our flesh, while sin corrupts and damages our spirit while making comfortable our flesh.
The ones who love God and want the best for His people will oftentimes be the same people that are scorned for being negative and overly critical when the Body of Christ is moving towards a shipwreck of the faith. Classical mythology has much to teach us on this topic in particular. Sirens were mythological creatures who wooed sailors and caused them to crash their ships and die in the waters of a rocky shore by singing songs that plucked on the deepest desires of their hearts. In many ways, sin is like a siren, pulling and plucking the chords of our deepest unmet needs promising fulfillment, however, this fulfillment is shallow and pulls us deeper and deeper into the sin chasing the original promise until we are enslaved and captive to it.
The people who love the church will shout and desperately try to restrain their fellow brothers and sisters from chasing into the arms of death, and they will inevitably be hated for it. I apologize for the imagery that follows but I think it makes the point better than I ever could.
Imagine yourself at work or school and you see someone that you care for and love walking past you toward something off in the distance, however as they get closer to that thing you realize they are walking toward a busy street and they are starting to run, it looks like they aren’t paying attention to where they are going and you start to shout their name running after them. You catch up to them and finally manage to get their attention but then they look back toward the street and start running again. You chase after them one more time and when you finally stop them they are angry at you for stopping them from jumping in front of a car. They are angry at you for saving their life.
This analogy isn’t theologically perfect, but it does pluck the same emotional strings as desperately trying to hold someone back from a life of sin. Maybe it isn’t suicide, it might be addiction or abusive and manipulative behavior. We can all probably think of something that brings anguish to our hearts because someone we cared for got hurt or died because of how they were living their life. Welcome to the company of many theologians and ministers over the course of history who have desperately called out to the Body of Christ warning of the sin and death that awaits their brothers and sisters on the path that they are walking. They are hated and reviled for their desperate attempts to restrain and corral their brothers and sisters back into the safety of the arms of Christ.
The ones who hate Christians most profoundly and most violently tend to be the ones who push us closer to Christ because of our fear of what they may do to us if we drift to far from the Cross.
These are in no way completely thought out ideas, but I needed to get this on paper to start thinking about it more deeply much like piety, this is a topic that will be often discussed on blog posts.