A few days ago I opened the blog site of Paul Burleson. Welcoming me was the confronting title of his latest article; CALUMNIATORSAND CHRISTIANS____WHAT AN OXYMORON.
What a title! You better read it!
I find Paul's site is one of those which are well worth the time to read. From what he writes, he appears to be one of the rare ones who is making much sense in the conglomeration of pontifications coming from, what purports to be Christianity.
His title says it all.
Sixty-one years ago I was introduced to the Lord Jesus Christ, and I began the journey which led to many amazing blessings, many stupid mistakes, thoughtless sinful words and deeds, and painful repentance.
Alongside of that were the joys and hurts of a lifetime of ministry and preaching, beginning when I was seventeen, to a multitude of precious people.
During the early few years the occasional, to use Paul's great word, “calumniators” spoiled the joyous experience and privilege I had of seeing people come to know salvation in Christ, thankfully they were few and far between.
The last 20-25 years has seen such an explosion in the number of those calling themselves “Christian” who are the epitome of “calumniators”, otherwise known as backbiters, defamers, libellers, maligners, slanderers, traducers, vilifiers, and others I cannot bring to mind.
James was very conscious of the oxymoron that our brother wrote about:
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
The Holy Spirit had given James clear insight into the fact that to use the name “Christian” and speak calumniation against another is exactly what Paul Burleson said, an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms.
Again, James had his thoughts concise and clear:
Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
Far too many, who claim the appellation “Christian” have been given to understand that great amounts of academic understanding, teaching and truth, is what gives them good standing before God.
Where His brethren are concerned, He certainly does not accept, nor condone failures, whatever they may be, with which the finger pointing, self-appointed, arbiters of others' opinions, words, or deeds, fuel their calumniations.
Personally, I'm so very thankful that He sees all who belong to Him by the same standard. He sees us through the lens, and in the light of His finished work. His view of us is through the heart and mind of the Father towards a world of prodigal sons and daughters.
We utterly paralyse and poison our ability to represent Christ, and to understand the love with which He loved us, whilst ever we seek to impress with our ability to prove others wrong, or to act as judge and jury over their sinful failures, by using language which calumniates them.
It has been my own experience when seeking to help those who have been devastated by the accusing words of others, that these accused ones are often the genuine treasures in the functioning of the Body of Christ.
The apostle Paul didn't write that God's people were to be built up in the swelled heads and bloated egos which accompany calumniation!
“Rather”, he said, “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love”.
You and I ought to be more concerned with this matter of building up the other, than indulging ourselves in the prideful unedifying sniping at the assets of others, especially if we honestly examine our own limitations.
Those who are the target of such deliberations might well ask the calumniating one,
“Who gave you the authority to be my judge and jury?”
It takes great elevation of mind and quality of character, standards and conduct to look beyond the matter we perceive as a fault or failure and offering a heart attitude which is consistent with our confession of Jesus Christ as Lord.
Christ in us the hope of glory, with the love with which He loved us is what builds. Nothing less!
Am I suggesting that truth is not of the utmost importance? Absolutely not!
But truth, without understanding, genuine love and patience is nothing but emptiness, whether accompanied by framed academic pieces of paper or not is epitomized by Paul's words, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal“.
Gracious attitudes and love are the inevitable result, and actually causes an outward, as well as an inward change in those who reflect it as a natural consequence of “Christ in us”.
Strength and restful confidence doesn't come from an encyclopaedic knowledge of truth, they come from the understanding that we are in Christ and He in us, as Saviour, Lord, brother and friend.
Rest does not spring firstly from truth. It comes from love, God's love, as revealed in His precious Son.
The question I must ask, and you, whoever you are,is, “Am I one who is marked out amongst others by the peculiarities of the love of Christ for me flowing from me to another and, indeed, towards all.
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)