Are Christians too nice? Well, Christians today are nicer than God.
Or at least they are trying to be so. In the Church there is a standard of niceness that Jesus failed to reach while on earth. Comparing God's attitude and behavior with that of the Church today shows that believers are far more polite, tolerant, understanding and respectful to the wicked than God is.
The Church is also less offensive, rude and sarcastic than God's men in the Bible were. And no Christian would ever be caught dead mocking the wicked, as occasionally God's men in the Bible did.
The Scriptures sometimes ministers through ridicule, humor, sarcasm, name-calling, and even mocking. For example, God mocked and defeated the Midianites by giving them a nightmare in which they were attacked by a loaf of bread (Jud. 7:13-14). Elijah, just prior to executing 450 prophets of Baal, "mocked them" as the Bible says, telling them to yell louder to their god so that Baal could hear their prayers since he was either on a trip, sleeping or in the restroom (Hebrew, "private place," 1 Ki. 18:27; and 2 Ki. 6:8-20). And Jesus rebuked the multitudes for not responding in faith to John the Baptist's message as He ridiculed them: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?" (Mat. 11:7).
The especially harsh term hypocrite is used in the Gospels twenty-three times. Christ often insulted the scribes, Pharisees and lawyers. He even called the Pharisees blind guides (Mat. 23:16, 24) and sons of hell (Mat. 23:15). Jesus spoke unkind words unacceptable today. He said to Peter "Get behind me, Satan" (Mat. 16:23). He told the Pharisees "You are of your father the devil" (John 8:44), and made a whip and cleared "thieves" from the temple (Mat. 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46; John 2:14-15).
Gentiles (as symbols of the godless) and sodomites are called "dogs" in the Bible. (For "dog" as a metaphor for filthy homosexuals see Deut. 23:17-18 and Rev. 22:15. And for this term of derision referring also to Gentiles as symbols of the ungodly see Mat. 7:6 with Lev. 22:10; Mat. 15:26; Ps. 22:16, 20; 59:5-6; Phil. 3:2, with this usage easily originating with Ex. 22:31 and Deut. 14:21.) And Jesus was harsh not only to the Pharisees, as some believers wrongly assume, because if so, that would mean that He only loved religious leaders. But the Lord was harsh with all the unrepentant. See for example His name calling use as described above for the word "hypocrite" and see the Lord's use of the word "liar" (John 8:55, "if I say, 'I do not know Him' I shall be a liar like you", where He seems to be speaking with a group of unbelievers). Jesus instructs believers to not "cast your pearls before swine" (Mat. 7:6). Yet the silly dilemma now is, "Who could Christ possibly have meant by that? For we are too loving, tolerant, polite and respectful to refer to any human being by that mean-spirited term."
In the King James Version, the seductive women among the people of God are worse than "whores" (Ezek. 16:33). That crude term appears in the Scriptures dozens of times. The men who use those women are "whoremongers" (1 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 13:4; Rev. 21:8; 22:15), which is the most raw term in the English language to describe promiscuous men. God describes other sinners in terms of filthy excrement (Isa. 64:6) and even worse (2 Ki. 18:27; Isa. 36:12). Sinners truly are repulsive, regardless of how men may try to sanitize them.
Since 1991, our radio program, Bob Enyart Live, has been an occasionally harsh and often confrontational news-talk show. The program does not cater to what Christians expect and is sometimes criticized for being offensive.
Jesus was offensive. Most people were offended by him. The proof for John the Baptist that Jesus was the Christ was that the blind see, the lame walk and the majority are "offended" by Him (Mat. 11:2-19). As Jesus said, "Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me" (Mat. 11:6; Luke 7:23). In Galilee, Jesus did not plead with his neighbors to understand Him when "they were offended at Him" (Mat. 13:57; Mark 6:3). If unbelievers are offended, so be it (cf. Luke 14:3-4; John 5:8-16). "Shake off the dust from your feet" (Mat. 10:14). But alas, that is no longer a Christian attitude.
Christ's apostles asked Him, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard [Your] saying?" (Mat. 15:12). What is the accepted Christian response today after an offense is taken? Quick, apologize! Ask for forgiveness! Tell them you are sorry. How did Jesus respond? He said to ignore the complaints of the unbelievers: "Let them alone. They are blind," (Mat. 15:14). Today, many Christians condemn Christ's attitude as unloving.
Jesus promised his followers, "you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended" (Mat. 24:9-10). When a Canadian started his call into our talk show with a vicious, "Bob, I hate you..." The response was "Cool. Great! Because Jesus taught that if they hated Me, they will hate you" (see John 15:18-20; 17:14; Mat. 10:22; Luke 21:17). And why did the world hate Jesus? Not because He was overly nice, but as He said, "The world... hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil" (John 7:7). Today Christians think if the world hates them, they have failed. The reverse should be true. It is not that a Christian wants to be hated; it is simply an occupational hazard.
Jesus is the Rock. Most believers are unaware, however, that Jesus used this metaphor to issue a graphic threat against the unrepentant. For Christ said that on whom that Rock "falls, it will grind him to powder" (Mat. 21:44; Luke 20:18). Even the Father said that the Son is the "rock of offense" (Isa. 8:14; Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:8). Offending unbelievers is Christlike in the deepest sense.
God utterly forbid drinking blood (Lev. 3:17; 17:14). Israelites, from priests, to Pharisees, to average citizens, were at least superficially obsessed with "keeping the law." Thus when Jesus said whoever "drinks My blood has eternal life," (John 6:54) He was being extremely offensive, and intentionally so. Further, He made no effort whatsoever to clarify Himself. Rather, He let the offense work its ministry. Jesus knew He even offended His own followers. As He said to "His disciples" immediately afterward, "does this offend you?" (John 6:61). After He called the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites, a lawyer said to Him, "Teacher, by saying these things You reproach us also." Jesus answered, "Woe to you also, lawyers!" (Luke 11:45-46). For those who still didn't get it, Jesus said, "I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!" (Luke 12:5). Even more emphatic, the New Testament warns, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10:31).
Being rough with the wicked does not automatically turn off unbelievers. An Indianapolis Star columnist, Steve Hall, wrote about our BEL program, "But he's cheerful. Oddly, despite the rigidity of his views, Enyart does not come across as a dour, puritanical type." Jesus spoke of a king who arranged a marriage for his son, but those receiving the invitations killed the messengers so the king, who represented Jesus' own Father, "was furious, and he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city" (Mat. 22:7), and regarding an "evil servant", the Son of Man "will cut him in two" (Mat. 24:51). A harsh style of evangelism is difficult for more sensitive Christians to appreciate. However the biblical approach to communicating with the world includes not only compassion, but severity as well.
Anti-drug public service announcements (PSAs) from the Partnership from a Drug-Free America or the Ad Council have mocked potheads. They've shown their brains on drugs, fried, and one short-lived spot showed them on the game show Jeopardy unable to even remember their names. These were not motivated out of hatred but out of love. Ridicule can and does save lives. "Why do you think they call it dope?" Stigmatizing spots run by the Ad Councill on Christian stations get no criticism for being unkind. Let a believer, however, use mockery to stigmatize fornication or homosexuality, and the Church rises in condemnation. God, however, does not condemn those who "rebuke the wicked" (Prov. 24:17-18, 25).
God mocked Jeroboam, who "stretched out his hand from the altar" and ordered the prophet arrested. "Then his hand, which he stretched out toward him, withered, so that he could not pull it back to himself" (1 Ki. 13:4). God mocked the Philistines when they found Dagon their god "fallen on its face before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again" (1 Sam. 5:3). The next morning they found Dagon toppled again, but this time he had lost his head (1 Sam. 5:4). God mocked the idolaters who cut down a branch, and with half of it they make a god to worship and with the other half, they make a fire to cook lunch (Is. 44:14-17). Another carves an idol of stone and says to it "wake up" (Hab. 2:18-19). (See also Jer. 49:1.)
When a harsh word is needed God uses a harsh word. This is true in the Old and New Testaments. Jesus said of one particular sinner, "It would have been good for that man if he had not been born" (Mat. 26:24). And Herod beheaded the Lord's forerunner, John the Baptist, for "rebuking" the king for "all the evils which Herod had done" (Luke 3:19) and for condemning the tetrarch for incestuous adultery (Mat. 14:3-4; Mark 6:17-18; Lev. 18:16; 20:21) with "Herodias, his brother Philip's wife" (Luke 3:19). Jesus warned of "the leaven of Herod" (Mark 8:15). When notified that "Herod wants to kill You" (Luke 13:31), Christ responded without respect, "Go, tell that fox, 'I cast out demons'…" (Luke 13:32). Then in a parable Jesus said, "bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me" (Luke 19:27), and of course by "mine" and "me" He was referring to Himself.
The Bible does not say, "Hate the sin, love the sinner." It says, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7). Thus, the problem isn't his sin as much as it is him. Yes, "the Lord hates... hands that shed innocent blood," (Prov. 6:16-17), but those hands are attached to the man and controlled by his heart (i.e., his mind). So God hates "all workers of iniquity" (Ps 5:5). "The Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man" (Ps 5:6). Also "the wicked and the one who loves violence [God] hates." (Ps 11:5). So not only does King David say, "Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God! ... Do I not hate them, O Lord who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with perfect hatred" (Ps. 139:19, 21-22; [Jer. 12:8]). Further, "The face of the Lord is against those who do evil" (Ps 34:16). God "loves righteousness and hate[s] wickedness (Ps. 45:7).
There are six things "the Lord hates," including "a heart that devises wicked plans… a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren" (Prov. 6:16-19). And God reminds us "All their wickedness is in Gilgal, for there I hated them. Because of the evil of their deeds I will drive them from My house; I will love them no more" (Hos. 9:15). As Moses recorded that God said, "if you do not obey Me... My soul shall abhor you" (Lev. 26:27-30).
Even in the New Testament, Paul wrote, "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil" (Rom. 12:9) introducing the concept of hypocritical love. What is hypocritical love? "Should you… love those who hate the Lord? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you" (2 Chr. 19:2). Warning the wicked of the coming judgment is harsh, but is a necessary component of acceptable love. A love that is not hypocritical rebukes and condemns, and then points the way to God.
God uses different methods to communicate the Gospel to people at different depths of depravity. At times, a Christian can pray with an unbeliever. At other times, a believer might ridicule the unrepentant in hopes of waking him up. Painful communication though is in no way reserved just for non-Christians.
Paul uses dripping sarcasm telling the Corinthians that they do not need his counsel because they are full, rich, wise, strong and distinguished. They are even like kings, and all that without Paul's help (1 Cor. 4:8, 10). Sarcasm stigmatizes destructive behavior and prods people toward righteousness (1 Cor. 4:14). Paul also fell short of today's compassionate Christianity when he wrote that the government should minister terror, wrath and vengeance against the evildoer and that the sword should be used against them (Rom. 13:3-4). The Apostle also erred by today's standards calling unbelievers fools (Rom. 1:22) and the Galatians fools (Gal. 3:1, 3). Incidentally, Jesus also called men fools (Mat. 23:17, 19; 25:2-8; Luke 11:40; 12:20) when appropriate but never "without a cause" (Mat. 5:22) according to His teaching. Proverbs says that "he who hates correction is stupid" (Prov. 12:1) and a generation earlier King David wrote, "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'" (Ps. 53:1). Thus, atheists, for example, are fools and to always withhold this knowledge from them is cruel.
Christians enjoy quoting, "No weapon formed against you shall prosper." However many shudder at the rest of the verse. For thus says the Lord, "Every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn" (Isa. 54:17). Jesus taught that human beings will condemn the wicked. "The men of Nineveh will rise in the judgment with this generation and condemn it" (Mat. 12:41). Speaking of vengeance, the saints in heaven who no longer have a shred of false religiosity seek vengeance. For of course, vengeance is good, for "vengeance is Mine" says the Lord (Deut. 32:35; Rom. 12:19) saith the Lord. True, we ourselves are not to exact vengeance on our enemies, "but rather give place to wrath" and that place is with "the governing authorities... For rulers are... a terror... to evil. ... for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil" (Rom. 12:19; 13:1, 3-4). This "is the patience and the faith of the saints." So in heaven, "the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God... cried with a loud voice, saying, 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?'” (Rev. 6:9-10). Once that vengeance is complete, an angel will say, "Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her" (Rev. 18:20). Remember that Jesus said, "For God so loved the world." Two verses later though He added, "but he who does not believe is condemned already" (John 3:18). By today's Christian standard, no unbeliever would know that he is condemned, because most believers will not communicate this vital truth. John 3:16 is nice. John 3:18 is not nice.
WWJD? WDJD? Some have called Bob Enyart Live rude. Jesus was rude. We're not Jesus. (He was a person, we're a radio talk show :) But the Apostle Paul said to "Follow me as I follow Christ," and he was rude too. Jesus is an example as are the prophets and the apostles. The Lord was asked a question that goes to the very heart of His ministry. "Who gave you this authority?" (Mat. 21:23). Within the answer to that question lies eternal life, yet Christ was not inclined to answer. Rather, He asked them a question, which they failed to answer (Mat. 21:24-27). Therefore He said to them that neither would He answer their question (Mat. 21:27; see also Luke 22:67 and John 12:34-36).
When people misunderstood Jesus He often made no effort to explain Himself. Quite to the contrary, He often purposely let His hearers misconstrue His words (John 2:18-22). Jesus let people walk away in unbelief without running after them. God's Word does not record Him as saying, "I'm sorry, did you misunderstand me?" He is the "stumbling block," and if men wanted to stumble, He let them. For those who want to hang themselves, He invites them (Rev. 22:11). Jesus made the rope available. He is that rope (Rom. 9:33).
Jesus was a man, not a girl. Christianity today has been emasculated. Men and women are different and they communicate differently. Women are softer and nicer than men, and thank God that they are. However, men are not supposed to be women. Today, pastors are expected to behave like women. That foolishness is a death sentence for many unbelievers. Isaiah described adults who act like children. "They say to... the prophets, 'Give us no more... of what is right. [Instead] tell us pleasant things'", nice things (Isaiah 30:10). Strength, confidence, conviction and tough love appeal to those who are searching. Thus Jesus, lifted up and gruesomely killed, draws all men to Himself like a beacon for the real seekers who humble themselves. But for those wanting to stay lost, Christ is like a street sign that has been reversed by a troublemaker.
Today we are way nicer than God. It is tragic. This spiritual plateau that the Church has reached conveniently reduces the chances for confrontation. Nice people rarely rebuke, judge, confront, accuse or condemn. Nice people have less stress. It seems the only ones that Christians are quick to judge and condemn are fellow believers who judge and condemn the wicked. Go figure.
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Listen also to this Nicer than God Bible study presented by Bob Enyart available as a downloadable or on MP3-CD!
See also our related resources:
- Christian Clichés
- All Sins Are Not Equal
- Automatic Forgiveness
- Should Christians Judge?
- No Longer a Justice System
- Nice People Reject Penal Substition (coming soon: a BEL resource)
And you're invited to listen to Bob Enyart Live which airs around the world via the Internet 24/7 at KGOV.com and throughout Colorado on the 50,000-watt AM 670 KLTT weekdays at 3 p.m. Also, you can get The Plot, Bob’s best-selling book about the Bible at our KGOV store or by calling 1-888-8Enyart (836-9278)!