This article appeared in the September 28, 2006 issue of the Cottonwood Chronicle
© 9.25.06 By D. Eric Williams
A young woman selling magazines came to the door of the parsonage the other day. It was rather confusing actually; at first it seemed she was trying to collect signatures so she could win a bond to start a business or something like that. Anyway, once it was clear she wanted to sign us up for several magazine subscriptions, I politely declined and wished her well as she called on other members of the community. I was a bit taken aback by her response.
"You Christians are all the same - you're a hypocrite - I knew you would be! Your such a *@!$ hypocrite, won't even help someone who comes to your door asking for help!"
I stood there silently as she turned and strode quickly around the house and out of sight. I've put in plenty of time as a door to door salesman myself and I know how hard it can be, so I make it a point to be friendly and polite to salespeople. Consequently I was caught completely off-guard by her angry outburst.
After she left I stood there thinking about what would make her act that way. Obviously she doesn't like Christians - or maybe it's just pastors she doesn't like (during our brief conversation she had asked me if I was the pastor of the church across the parking lot - I wonder how she would have ended the sales call if I had said I was not the pastor?). The thought crossed my mind she must have had a bad experience with the church. But then, it occurred to me, the young woman had simply exhibited the behavior of the natural man.
The Bible tells us the unregenerate are at war with God and hate Him. Indeed, Jesus said; "If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:18-19).
For all I know, the young woman selling magazines did have a bad experience with the church at some point. God knows His children are not perfect. Nonetheless I suspect the real reason for her irrational outburst was simply hatred toward God and His people. After all, door to door salesmen are not normally judged obvious candidates for charity and so it was unreasonable for her to think I was simply being stingy.
So how are Christians supposed to respond to open hostility? Consider the words of Christ as He hung on the cross; "Father forgive them, they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Followers of Jesus Christ respond to the world's hostility with self sacrificing love. Yes we must stand firm for the truth, but our unyielding stand must be characterized by winsomeness not arrogance or roughness. The fact is, when we do strive to live "godly in Christ Jesus" we will suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). An angry outburst over my failure to buy a magazine subscription certainly does not qualify as persecution for a Christ-like life. It does, however, give us a preview of what is in store for us when we actually begin to take the Bible seriously and live it like we should.