Have you noticed recently that the good guys are now the bad guys? That Christianity is portrayed and ridiculed as being on the wrong side of history? That Christian views on salvation, marriage, and gender, are not seen as merely false, but as dangerous; opinions not to be considered but censored? The times are changing, Christianity is no longer a friend to society, but an enemy. Only a few decades ago Christianity had a favored status in the West, Christianity was the “good guy”, the solution to what was bad. Today, Christianity is increasingly viewed as the “bad guy”, the impediment to what is considered “good” by society. Christianity is in trouble because of its rigid morality, universal claims, exclusive message of salvation, and comprehensive world view.
While the status of being “bad guys” is something new in the West, Christians across the world, and throughout history, have always known the derision of the world. Study the Bible and church history and you will discover that God’s people and preachers have often been cast as troublemakers and evildoers (Matt. 5:11-12; 1 Peter 2:11-12; 3:15-17; 4:12-16). Ours is a world that likes to shoot the messenger.
Faithful Amos was charged with conspiring against Jeroboam, king of Israel, and told that the land was not able to bear all his words (Amos 7:10). Wicked King Ahab who had troubled Israel with his idolatry and alliance with Jezebel, nevertheless labeled and libeled the prophet Elijah as the troubler of Israel (1 Kings 18:17-18). It was said of Paul and Silas, after they brought freedom to a demon-enslaved girl, that they had exceedingly troubled the city (Acts 16:20; cf. 17:6; 24:5). Even Christ himself was accused by the Jewish elites of perverting the nation (Luke 23:2, 5). Read your Bible and you will see that the “good guys” have often been cast as the “bad guys”.
Outside of the Bible, a study of church history shows a similar pattern of good and godly people being scapegoated by a wicked world. Under Nero, Christians were blamed for the burning of Rome, and consequently set on fire as punishment. Tertullian, the church father, famously said, “If the Tiber rises too high or the Nile too low, the cry is ‘The Christians to the lions.’” In opposition to Luther and the Protestant Reformation, Pope Leo X issued a papal bull entitled “Arise O Lord” in which he condemned Luther and called for the immediate restraint of this “wild boar in God’s vineyard.”
The times have changed in America and the West, but in another sense the times have not changed. The world hated Christ, and the world will hate those who preach His name and fame, and who replicate His character (John 15:18-25). In the midst of this emerging change, let us not change the gospel or our commitment to live unashamed of the gospel (Rom. 1:16-17). Remember it is an honor to suffer shame for the name of the One who bore our shame (Acts 5:40-41). Remember too, that there is coming a day when God will trouble those who trouble the church (2 Thess. 1:3-10).
Don’t be troubled by being called a troublemaker - because we are not the ones in trouble!