Some time ago, I was talking with a godly missionary who was being told to leave the area in which she was serving. She had contributed to her critic’s success, and now he was turning on her. The following thoughts could apply to any Christian being rejected and pushed out.
She had been diligent and conscientious to contribute to the common enterprize. But now she was being criticized and opposed. She’d been voluntold (volunteered and told) to leave. In fact, her critic threatened to ruin her reputation, making it difficult to serve anywhere else in her adoptive land.
There was too much pressure. Those who favor her and had benefited from her diligence, had little clout with which to defend her. She was gone. Like being told to clean out your desk, give back the company cell phone and laptop and being escorted out of the building. Done. Fired! Your pension? Maybe that’s gone too.
What should this missionary do? She took Scripture seriously, so she checked her spiritual pulse, got alone with God and talk to Father. Then what should she do? She could fight it. But this godly woman did not want to create division. These were the things I pointed out to her:
- Get some brothers / sisters involved. Supporting you. This is a graduate level course in Self Control. This is Maturity 404. God is shaping you so it is humiliating and painful.
- Re-visit the Paradoxes of the Christian Life — II Corinthians 6:8-10. That passage says, we are genuine, but seem to be imposters; we are known and loved in Heaven, “yet regarded as unknown.” We are in sorrowful circumstance, yet “always rejoicing” because we are loved by the Lord and heaven is a certainty.
- Our anger, explanations or defensiveness will not bring righteousness into the situation. James 1:20 says so. The person inviting you to leave will not make positive changes in his life because you point out his blind spots.
- Some truth is better discovered later. It gathered power as it lay dormant. Either we may recognize more later, or our critics may. Notice how this “better discovered later” appears in John 2:22 and 12:16:
Temple When the Lord Jesus Christ said, “Tear down this temple and I will raise it up in three days,” it did not make sense (John 2). But His disciples remembered it. Three years later, when He was raised from the dead, they remembered what He had said. Can’t you imagine them slapping one another on the back exclaiming, “He was talking about His body, not the building. He knew exactly what He was saying!” It clicked after He was resurrected, and it likely was more powerful for their previous lack of comprehension.
They Did It To Him The John 12 passage shows the disciples (1) failed their Bible class (“these things had been written about Him…”) and they (2) failed to realize they were fulfilling Scripture as they were fulfilling Scripture (“. . . they had done these things to Him.”) Rather slow to catch on. So they would be motivated to be patient with others in the future.
- Paul Rejoiced – This critical man wanted to take credit for her previous Christian service even as he pushed her out. This reminds us of Paul in Philippians 1:17. Some preached Christ because they were envious of Paul’s reputation and success, wanting to rub it in that Paul was in jail while they were at large. They flaunted their freedom, wanting to make his chains more galling. How did he respond? He rejoiced that Christ was preached (How do you defeat a guy like that?). That is an amazing, godly response. Oh to have that much faith.
- God will Correct this Missionary’s Critic and your critics — Romans 12:17-21 says so. God will bring correction to the critical ones and / or judgment. But on His timetable. Do we have the faith to leave the issue to Him? Matthew 7:1-5 is a warning to critical people.
- The Lord Jesus Christ was asked to leave, so you are in good company. “They [the townspeople of Nazareth] and drove Him out of their town. . .” (Luke 4:29). “The whole town [where Jesus had healed a demon possessed man and sent the demons into pigs] went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they pleaded with Him to leave their region” (Matthew 8:34). We are not the only ones who have been asked to leave.
Critics who have been unkind and pushy in your life — one day they will discover how wrong they were, and the lesson will stay with them. They will either (1) treat others better out of the shame of having mistreated you, or (2) they will harden themselves which will lead to judgment, having stored up wrath for themselves (Romans 2:5).