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Be Willing to Say Things People Won't Like
Not because you love controversy, but because you love the truth.
A Preacher Who Preached a Sermon People Hated.
To my kids:
A preacher from the 1800s was arrested and in danger of losing his life because of a sermon he preached.
The preacher’s name was Tolbert Fanning.
Fanning had watched a member of the church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, sell one of his slaves. The enslaved person had been dragged away from his wife and children to be sold for a profit at the market. The man who was sold was also a member of the church.
Fanning was deeply disturbed by what he saw, knowing that this behavior - while permitted by law at the time - was utterly incompatible with the spirit of Jesus Christ.
The next Sunday Fanning, though a young preacher, reminded his listeners that the gospel of Christ had demanding social content, and he proceeded to rebuke the Christian slaveowner publically. - Wilburn, Hazard of the Die, 24
The member of the church that Fanning had rebuked was so enraged over Fanning’s sermon and public rebuke that he had him arrested and brought charges against him of trying to stir up a slave revolt.
Thankfully, a local lawyer took up Fanning’s case voluntarily without charge and won the case for Fanning - who otherwise may have been facing severe consequences.
All because Tolbert Fanning preached a sermon and said some things that people didn’t like.
Issues That Some People Still Don’t Like Hearing.
I’m thankful slavery is no longer an issue I have to address in sermons.
But racism is still alive and thriving in the hearts and minds of some people - even among Christians. The way these brethren speak of black people (or any other ethnic group) displays the prejudice they harbor in their hearts.
This behavior is foreign to the gospel of Christ (Acts 10:34-35).
When I’m writing you these letters, some members of the Lord’s church have no trouble criticizing, mocking, and speaking disrespectfully of our nation’s leaders of the opposing political party.
But if you dare say a word about their beloved party or candidate, you can almost see the bitterness and anger rise in their face.
For example, using President Joe Biden to illustrate a wicked leader (Proverbs 16:12-13) will immediately start the heads nodding, the laughter rippling, and the handshakes will be more hearty afterward.
But if you dare say that God perhaps removed former President Donald Trump from office for his arrogance and pride (Proverbs 16:18-19), the reactions will likely be very different. Some may get rather angry about such an illustration.
This behavior is also foreign to the gospel of Christ - and we always have to remain on guard that these attitudes don’t make their way into our lives.
And there are many other things that could be mentioned as well.
By the way, these names will probably mean very little to you by the time you get around to reading these letters - but they sure meant something to folks in 2023.
I just mention these things because I want you to know that I’m not just telling you one thing and then doing something else myself. I’m trying to “practice what I preach.” I’m certainly not perfect in this, and sometimes I’ve been silent when I probably should have said something.
Your Perfect Example.
I hope you never have to face going to jail or your life being endangered because of something you said, but it might happen. You will undoubtedly face situations where people won’t like something you say. You may lose friends - you might lose a job.
How committed are you to what’s right - to speak the truth?
Let me remind you - Jesus was sinlessly perfect. He always did the will of the Father (John 5:19). He spoke the truth (John 17:17; 14:6).
And He was still crucified.
What will you face for being like Jesus? I don’t know - but you will be blessed for being like Him.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)
Until next time,
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