When Paul arrived in the city of Rome to await his trial before Caesar, Luke tells us that he was allowed to stay by himself with a single soldier to guard him (Acts 28:16). Because of this relative freedom, Paul was able to receive not only the brethren who were in Rome, but also to call for the leading men among the Jews who lived in Rome. When these men came to Paul’s residence, he explained that he had called them so he might inform them why he was in custody. He wanted to be sure that these Jews knew the truth about his imprisonment.
When Paul explained how he came to be a prisoner of Rome, the leaders of the Jews told him that they had heard nothing about his case from the Jews in Jerusalem. No representative from the leaders in Jerusalem had come to Rome with a report, nor had any letters been written to them about Paul. They went on to say this, recorded in Acts 28:22: “But we desire to hear from you what your views are; for concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere.”
This comment certainly represented the prevailing view of many, if not most, of the Jews at that point in the first century. The force of this statement, which was offered almost casually, tends to shock modern day believers in Christ. We can hardly imagine faith in Jesus Christ as being spoken against. In fact, many who claim the name of Christ go out of their way to portray Christianity as inoffensively as possible. They go to great lengths to have their faith spoken of only in the most positive of terms.
It is this desire to be approved of, however, that has led many professed believers to modify their tenets of faith in order to avoid any negative reaction by the world. This has recently occurred as leaders of some churches have courted the favor of the homosexual lobby and other special interest groups. They have done so by suggesting that God’s word does not condemn homosexual behavior and by jumping on the bandwagon of the social liberals in society.
Obviously all of us want to be liked, if not loved. It is a part of our make-up as human beings. No one likes or appreciates a person or group that is obnoxious and purposely offensive. Part of good manners is being courteous and kind and respectful toward others, whether we believe they deserve it or not. At the same time, however, faith in Christ and the practice of that faith is not subject to modification to soothe the feelings of those who oppose it. Professed believers must not fall into the trap of trying to please or to appease unbelievers.
The reality of Christianity in the first century should prove this beyond doubt. Nothing that we read in the New Testament suggests that faith in Christ is an oppressive thing. Nothing in scripture even hints at Christians being obnoxious or offensive in the practice of their faith. They did, however, cause offense in many instances. They did so by proclaiming the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
This is a fact that must not be ignored. No one who is in violation of some code of conduct ever enjoys being corrected. Think about how it feels to be pulled over by a police officer and written up for speeding. No one would suggest that traffic laws should be modified to allow any kind of driving one pleases, so why would we bend God’s law to make it less offensive to those who are in sin? If we faithfully proclaim God’s word, we will be spoken against by those who stand against it. This, however, is what we must always do.
NOTE: This article was written days before Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson’s comments on homosexuality sparked the current furor. This incident perfectly illustrates the point of this article. Mr. Robertson accurately conveyed the teaching of the scriptures on homosexual behavior, and now he and the Christian faith are being “spoken against everywhere.” So it will always be, until the Lord comes again.