Against Christianity

Choosing the reproach of Christ

Like his parents, Moses would have to choose between his royal family and his Israelite brethren. Events would eventually culminate in a decision to identify with one or the other.

The Bible recalls “the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel,” and “made their lives bitter with hard service” and “ruthlessly made them work as slaves” (Exodus 1:12,13). The easy choice for Moses would have been to remain with his royal family. Instead he “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:24,25).

Moses could have, one supposes, immersed himself in the privileged life of a prince for the rest of his life. Most people could only dream of the life Moses led, but he determined to transition from prince to peasant. It would not be easy to wrench himself free from his royal family in order to join his spiritual family.

It never is.

Oddly the Hebrew writer switches terms from Moses’ decision to favor Israelite slaves to favoring Jesus Christ. “He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt” (Hebrews 11:26). Of course, in the literal sense Jesus Christ would not live for another millennium after Moses’ death, so it seems instead the author is including his readers in the need to side with the despised and unpopular; as Moses chose the Israelites, he seems to be saying, his readers should choose “the reproach of Christ.”

Then, as now, siding with Christ was not considered the “cool” choice. “If the world hates you,” Jesus had warned, “know that it has hated me first” (John 13:18).

Today a glance at the television will tell you that Christianity is not considered the popular lifestyle. In fact, antagonism toward Christianity is becoming more acute. Note the “rants” of secular people on social media in bitter, profane opposition to Christian principles. It has become acceptable on these sites to tear savagely into Christian beliefs.

To choose Christ and his church today is a decision we take knowing it will be deeply resented. The Lord warned that his way would not be popular: “For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13,14).

When Christians suggest that the church should accept the homosexual lifestyle, they are exhibiting their desire to side with conventional wisdom, rather than the church. When church leaders drop their insistence on a cappella music, it is because they desire the approval of their religious neighbors rather than the church. When church scholars seek to explain away biblical teaching on the role of men and women in worship, it is because they fear the rejection of colleagues in academia. When preachers no longer call on believers to be baptized, it is because they fear their congregations will not grow when they make this biblical stand. There are those within our ranks who will mock our commitment to returning to the Bible as if such was the action of the rural and the unsophisticated.

In that sense, to choose the church that seeks the Scripture for its only authority is to choose the church that is reproached. Yet compromise and courage are rarely synonyms; courage and making a stand are.

Make no mistake, it is hard to choose the unpopular church, the uncompromising Jesus, and the “uncool” teachings of Scripture. We are the church “everywhere spoken against” (Acts 28:22). It is hard to choose in its favor. Hard indeed, yet necessary

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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