How many of us, while living during the first century, can honestly say that we would have been receptive to the preaching of the gospel? I would venture to say our responses would have been either yes, maybe, or no. On the basis of a professing Christian-faith today, some in retrospect would say yes. Others, would respond maybe because Christianity is socially acceptable in society. The latter, no, because there are other spiritual teachings to believe in besides the gospel of Christ. The argument that I seek to delve into is “Would we have believed them?”
The Bible makes known this fact, that the gospel is to be preached from the mode of love, “But speaking the truth in love…” (Eph. 4:15). The Greek word for love is agape which means affection and benevolence. Therefore, the gospel of Christ must always be presented with gentleness and kindness. The Bible also reveals other facts, that the preaching of the gospel bares human characteristics. Would we have believed them, those who were a harsh hermit, a harden hypocrite, and a notorious nerd?
A harsh hermit is a person who lives in some form in seclusion from others. This would be John the Baptist who did his preaching in the wilderness causing those in the city to come out to hear him preach (Matt 3:1-2). He dressed in camel’s hair and a leather girdle, and ate locusts and wild honey (Matt 3:4). Who called religious people that came to his baptism a “brood of vipers” (Matt 3:5-7). Would you have believed him? Not if we balk at having to travel some great distance to worship and study God’s word as sometimes we do, or to judge another person’s clothes, or when the minister points out our faults!
A harden hypocrite is a person who lives or acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs and values. This would be the apostle Peter, an impetuous person who acted quite often without thinking (Luke 22:49-50). He denied the Lord three times as Jesus had said (Matt 26:69-75). Whose hypocrisy on one occasion could have potentially split the church in the Galatian region (Gal 2:11-13). Would you have believed him? Not if we overlook a person who has not been formally trained, or if we are not willing to give those who fail second chances!
A notorious nerd is a person of intellect, unstylish, unattractive, and socially inept. This would be the apostle Paul who admitted to being a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injured the church of Christ (I Tim 1:13). He was not a fluent speaker (I Cor. 2:3-4). He also had a physical appearance described as “weak” (II Cor. 10:10). Would you have believed him? Not if we hold a person’s past against them when they have been forgiven and their issue(s) are behind them, or if we judge the very stature of a person to be unappealing!
You are invited to attend all worship services and mid-week Bible classes weekly at the Beltway church of Christ where the preaching and teaching is characteristically taught by harsh hermits, harden hypocrites, and notorious nerds who responded to the gospel of Christ!