"Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me" John 14:1
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Written by Kevin L. Howard   
At least that's what you'd think by listening to a lot of American Christians.  When I look at the modern church, I want to call it Sissyanity rather than Christianity.  Come on, you know what I mean, the never ending mantra, "Be nice!," echoes along the halls of many churches.


Yet, so often, those who promote niceness the most are usually the furthest from any true form of kindness.  The "Be nice!" mantra frequently serves as a defense mechanism that usually means, "Hey, you've outsmarted me; stop it."


And one can't go far into an argument without someone summoning Jesus as the perfect example of turning the other cheek, usually a wimp's way of saying, "You should let me win the argument."  Jesus turned the other cheek alright and even laid down his life.  But was he the creampuff we've made him out to be?


Were the prophets ever rough?  Did Jesus ever say harsh things?  Did he ever stir the waters or rock the boat?  Did he ever refuse to turn the other cheek?  Did his followers sometimes cause trouble?


Let's take a brief look:


Ezekiel's a tough book.  We don't have to read many verses before we discover that God was ticked.  Ezekiel 2:1-8 says:


"He said to me, 'Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.'  As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.  He said: 'Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day.  The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn.  Say to them, "This is what the Sovereign LORD says."  And whether they listen or fail to listen-for they are a rebellious house--they will know that a prophet has been among them.  And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words.  Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions.  Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house.  You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.  But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you.  Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.'"


Wow, who knew God could be such a meanie?  I hope he didn't hurt anyone's feelings.


In Luke 12:49-53, Jesus said he'd come to cause divisions.  If that's not convincing enough, study Mt 18:15-20 where Jesus taught that the church should excommunicate members who won't repent.  Definitely not nice.  Perhaps that's why Jesus got crucified--he wasn't nice.  After all, nice people don't typically get crucified.  But people who crack whips, toss coins, and turn over tables in public do (John 2:15).


Jesus' radical behavior continued as he neared his crucifixion.  John 18:19-23 says:


"Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.  'I have spoken openly to the world,' Jesus replied, 'I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together.  I said nothing in secret.  Why question me? Ask those who heard me.  Surely they know what I said.'  When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face.  "Is this the way you answer the high priest?' he demanded.  'If I said something wrong,' Jesus replied, 'testify as to what is wrong.  But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?'"


It seems that Jesus didn't always turn the other cheek.  In fact, a study of the Gospels shows that Jesus frequently wrangled with his opponents in debate.


But Jesus wasn't the only guy in the New Testament to throw a fast ball at his enemies' heads.  See 1 Corinthians 5:5, 13, where Paul talked about turning a man over to Satan (also 1 Timothy 1:20).  In Philippians 4:2, Paul mentions the names of two ladies at odds with each other, as he also names those who had wronged him in 1 Timothy 1:20, 2 Timothy 1:15; 4:10, 14.  In 2 Timothy 3:5 he talked about avoiding--having nothing to do with-trouble makers.  I guess no one told Paul to be nice and turn the other cheek.  (He also debated people throughout Acts.)


Jude urged his readers to contend for the faith, and Paul told pastors to "...correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction."


If significant Christians throughout history had taken the advice of the "Be nice!" crowd, Luther would have been a ballerina, Huss a hairstylist, and Wycliffe a home decorator.  Thank God they didn't listen to the "Be nicers."  Our historic heroes did what was right rather than what was practical, easy, or nice.


My guess is that if Amos, Jesus, and John the Baptist called folks, "Fat cows of Bashan" (Amos 4:1), "white-washed tombs" (Matthew 23:27), and "brood of vipers" (Luke 3:7), then surely we can speak forthrightly with fools and troublemakers.


Apparently it's fine to emulate the soft Savior but don't go near the radical Redeemer.  If we come too close, he might actually transform us from cultural niceness to biblical kindness--which sometimes dons a sword rather than a skirt.


Also see

Our Jesus is Too Weak


Jesus-That Holy Sissy

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