Written by: Bill Elliff
The word “abuse” is applied to almost everything in our litigious day. If anyone does anything to you that you do not like, the next step is to claim abuse. There are some places where that word is very important and needed, particularly when those who are helpless are involved or sexual issues. But the overuse of any word can completely destroy its true meaning.
I have counseled with people wanting a divorce with the claim of abuse from their spouse. When pressed, I sometimes discover that what they mean is that their spouse has yelled at them. This is certainly wrong and may need to be confronted, but is often a normal part of living in relationships in a fallen world. For many, we have determined that anyone who disagrees with us, disbelieves in us, or speaks against us is cause for major alarm and disassociation.
THE ABUSE OF JESUS
Jesus models something different…a commitment to faithfully doing what is right and speaking the truth regardless of any mistreatment. In a few brief paragraphs in John 7 we see multiple accounts of how people treated Him.
After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. (John 7:1)
For not even his brothers believed in him. (John 7:5)
And there was much grumbling about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” (John 7:12)
The crowd answered, “You have a demon!” (John 7:20)
What would you do if you encountered these responses to your ministry? Jesus’ response to this disbelief and anger? He kept on teaching what God told him. He had a purpose: to always and only say what God was saying to Him and to leave the results to His Father. He knew that those that were meant to receive it would; others would hate it and eventually kill Him.
His ministry and life was cut short because of people’s rejection of Him. Just three short years was all He had. Yet He fully accomplished His work. He angered thousands—enough to put Him on a cross. But He saved everyone that God the Father intended and fulfilled His part to continue the ultimate redemptive movement in human history.
THE JESUS APPROACH TO ABUSE
Jesus was content to faithfully communicate God’s Word and said, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.” (John 7:16-17)
He kept on, willing to be seen as a failure in the eyes of men in order to be a success in the eyes of God. He let God take up His case against His enemies. If we choose His path we must be willing to suffer this type of abuse. Our response? “Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” (1 Peter 4:19)
TAKING UNNECESSARY OFFENSE
I once had a man in a church I pastored that was deeply opposed to me. He tried to get me fired and fought against me at every turn. He orchestrated a secret meeting in his home with 25 men to seek a “coup” in the church. In a deacons meeting, he stood up and questioned my motives. I was more timid then, as a young pastor, than I would have been now and I bit my lip and remained silent.
Returning to my office I complained to the Lord. “Lord, a man can question my actions all day, but to question my motives is just not right,” I said with a whine. There was a moment of awkward silence and then I heard the quiet voice of God’s Spirit in my soul. “Where did you get that?” the Lord said. “They questioned my motives.”
Are you willing to be abused? Willing to be misunderstood, even by your own brothers? To be grumbled about among the crowd? For people to think you are demonic when you know you are faithfully stating the truth?
If you are not willing to be misunderstood by some, you will become angry and defensive or worse, you will fearfully adjust your message and ministry to always please men. A willingness to be mistreated is a necessary requirement for any man who is interested in being used of God. It comes with the territory and puts you in company with Christ.
(copyright, Bill Elliff)
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