Protect me from your successors

"He who receives you receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me. He who receives a righteous because he is a righteous shall receive the reward of a righteous man (Matthew 10, 40-41 Schlachter translation).

The community of faith that I preside over (that is a privilege for me) and myself have undergone major changes in the faith and in the implementation of this belief over the past two decades. Our church was bound by law and the gospel of grace was urgent. I realized that not all could accept these changes and some would be very angry about it.

Unexpected, however, was the measure of hate directed against me personally. People who call themselves Christians have not shown much Christianity. Some have actually written to me that they would pray for my immediate death. Others told me they would like to participate in my execution. This gave me a deeper understanding of how Jesus said that anyone who wants to kill you will think he is ministering to God (John 16,2).

I tried everything so that this barrage of hate would not grab me, but of course he did. Inescapably. Words hurt, especially when they come from former friends and colleagues.

Over the years, the persistent angry words and hate mail have not hit me as deeply as the first. It's not that I've become tougher, thick-skinned, or indifferent to such personal attacks, but I can see these people torturing their inferiority, worries, and guilt. These are effects of legalism on us. The strict observance of the law acts as a safety blanket, one inadequate though, rooted in anxiety.

As we face the true security of the gospel of grace, some joyfully throw away this old blanket, but others desperately cling to it and wrap themselves even more tightly in it. They see anyone who wants to take them away as an enemy. That is why the Pharisees and other religious leaders of the time of Jesus saw him as a threat to their safety and wanted to kill him in their despair.

Jesus did not hate the Pharisees, he loved them and wanted to help them because he realized that they were their own worst enemies. Today it is the same, except that hatred and threats come from alleged followers of Jesus.

The Bible tells us, "Fear is not in love". On the contrary, "perfect love drives out fear" (1, John 4,18). It is not that perfect fear drives out love. If I recall all that, then the personal attacks will no longer bother me so much. I love those who hate me because Jesus loves them, even if they are not fully aware of the dynamics of their love. It helps me to take everything a bit easier.


Merciful Father, we ask your mercy for those who are still wrestling with their feelings of love for others. Humble, we implore you to bless her, Father, with the gift of repentance and renewal that you have given us. In Jesus' name, we ask that, Amen

by Joseph Tkach

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