Jesus and Paul Under Fire

Like many of you, I’ve been watching the news coverage for the 2012 USA presidential campaigns.

(For those of you who are reading this post in the 2050s, this was the race between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney long, long ago.)

Like many of you, I’ve also seen some of the “attack ads” on both sides. And I’m looking forward to the upcoming debates . . . in the same way that I was glued to the O.J. Simpson “Trial of the Century” back in the day.

Like that trial, I expect the debates to contain the elements of mystery, drama, comedy, excitement, and suspense.

Now why do politicians spend obscene amounts of money on ads which attack their opponents – most often falsely?

Because they work.

In general, people are gullible and will believe whatever they hear or read without checking the facts or going to the sources themselves.

On that score, Rick Warren made this comment recently: 

“I’ve never seen more irresponsible personal attacks, mean-spirited slander, and flat-out dishonest attack ads, and I don’t expect that tone to change before the election.”

This got me thinking. What’s happening in the political world right now in the USA has been going on in the “religious” world for over 2,000 years.

Consider the misrepresentations and false accusations leveled at Jesus during His earthly days, thousands of years before the Internet and cable news:

*He was accused of being an illegitimate child (John 8:41).

*He was accused of being a deceiver(John 7:12).

*He was accused of being mentally ill (John 10:20).

*He was accused of being demon possessed (Matt. 9:34; John 7:20).

*He was accused of being Beelzebub [Satan] (Matt. 10:25).

*He was accused of being a blasphemer (Matt. 9:3; 26:65; Mark 2:7)

*He was accused of being an enemy to the Law of Moses. (To put this in modern terms, His teachings and practices went against the Bible).

*He was accused of saying that he would destroy the Temple in Jerusalem (Mark 14:58).

At best, Jesus’ words were misunderstood by His own followers (John 21:22-23). At worse, they were deliberately twisted by His detractors (Matthew 26:60-61).

In addition, Jesus was betrayed by one of His disciples, denied by another disciple, and in His darkest hour, He was deserted by all of them. (To their credit, His female disciples never deserted Him.)

Interestingly, Jesus said these striking words to His followers:

Remember the words I spoke to you: “No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” John 15:20 

It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub [the head of devils], how much more the members of his household! Matthew 10:25 

Woe to you when all men speak well of you . . . Luke 6:26 

One such follower in whom these words were fulfilled was Paul of Tarsus.

Consider the things that were circulating about Paul by his contemporaries. (A good part of the Scripture references in this list contain Paul’s response to his critics’ accusations):

*He was accused of being a man pleaser and a coward (Gal. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4).

*He was accused of being a false apostle (Gal. 1:11-2:10; 2 Cor. 11:16-12:12).

*He was accused of being a flatterer (1 Thess. 2:5).

*He was slandered and his good was evil spoken of (1 Cor. 10:30).

*He was accused of being greedy (1 Thess. 2:5,9).

*He was accused of seeking glory from men (1 Thess. 2:6).

*He was accused of extorting God’s people (2 Cor. 2:17; 11:7-21).

*He was accused of being a deceiver and a crafty manipulator (2 Cor. 6:8; 12:16).

*He was given a bad report (reputation) by some (2 Cor. 6:8).

*He was the subject of insults (2 Cor. 12:10).

*He was accused of being a controller (2 Cor. 10:1-2, 9-11).

*He was accused of blasphemy (Acts 24:6).

*He was accused of being a “cult” leader (Acts 24:5).

*He was accused of being a criminal (Acts 16:20-21; 24:5; 2 Tim. 2:9).

As I answer questions from non-Christians today, I find that Jesus and Paul are still being misrepresented, distorted, and lied about.

For example, not too long ago the idea that Jesus had a wife when He was a young man made headline news. Even though the idea was shredded not long afterwards, showing that the alleged “evidence” was a forgery, some who are gullible still believe it. See The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife: How a Fake Gospel-Fragment Was Composed.

I’m Frank Viola and I approve this message. :-)

What lessons can those who teach and preach the gospel today learn from the things that were said about Jesus and Paul during their lifetimes?

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Comments

  1. Marsha says

    During this election,Iam begining to think God is using the candidates to show America who she is. How can we call ourselves a Christian nation with all this hate, divisons,lies and attacking each other in a vicious satanic manner? Where aren’t Christians taking to the streets about this? There should be millions across the nation and even in other countries. Instead we remain behind the comfort of our walls judging. We come in the form of liars,thieves,false leaders,idolatries,fornicators, molestors, and we hate our neighbors, pssing by each other in churhces, stores and social events,never making eye contact or speaking.In fact we break all the rules of the ten commandments and still call ourselves Christians. We are training our emerging generation to do the same. No wonder they are falling away saying, “We like Jesus Christ but we don’t like your Chrisians. Instead of putting our turst in God, we are putting it in men. AMERICA! AMERICA! How can God bless us if we continue down the the path of destruction brought on by our own doing. Not all of us but far too many.

  2. says

    There are so many lessons here hard to know where to start. The one at the top for me is that we have become the most mean spirited people on the planet, it is one of the reasons at times I do not like social media, we have no filters at all, To me when the supposed greatest leaders in the world tearing at on another it makes me sad. One thing is true there is only one Great true Leader the Lord Jesus Christ. We all need to have our hearts renewed and be careful ourselves.

  3. says

    It is no different today, the darkness still does not like the Light. We expect to be talked about in the worst manner by the world, that is a given understanding and seems to not rattle our peace. But, watch out and don’t be taken aback that the greatest distortions, slander, and intentional accusations come from those who claim to be in Christ. This is the distraction that we must not be caught-up in. If we have attempted to come to an understanding with someone in this later definition by stating our beliefs, and so on, and yet the abuse continues, it is so that we should not give our attention to such persons. The greatest enemy of Christ apparently comes from within, by those who claim to be believers in Christ. The attacks are resultant from the unrenewed minds of those who have become exactly what they oppose. One look at history, and we see the most murders and torture upon the saints came from the hands of so-called believers in their midst. Onward in Christ, would be my attitude of mind.

  4. Angela says

    Don’t pay much attention to criticisms from those who don’t know you, while at the same time staying humble and willing to receive correction from those who do!

  5. Jeff says

    I think the first lesson is that if you’re a preacher or teacher you’re going to be maligned and it will come by Christians also (David’s comment). The second lesson is don’t believe everything you read or hear especially if it’s negative about another person. Those lists really bring this point home.

    By the way I’m lovin’ the new book with Sweet. It’s a masterpiece.

  6. says

    Fortunately, I rarely watch tv and so I don’t see the political commercials. I’ve gotten a few things in the mail, but not too much (so far!). I dislike the use of photos to make the other person look evil.

  7. Travis Mamone says

    I was just thinking the other day (well, more like for the past few years) how today’s 24-hour news media/propaganda machine would cover Jesus’ ministry, if He were here today. MSNBC would probably scold Jesus for not being radical enough against the Roman Empire, and Fox News would probably scold Him for associating with radicals and prostitutes!

  8. Jennifer says

    Another great post, Frank. I agree with David. History repeats itself unfortunately. My father is in ministry and most of the assaults against him have come from his fellow Christians. This article will encourage him. Thanks for writing it.

  9. David McGuire says

    Great post. I like the lists on Jesus and Paul. Didn’t realize all the stuff that was said about them. In answer to the question I would say that the people who spread those lies about Jesus were people who had a covenant with God. They were the leaders of Israel. The people who spread those lies about Paul were christians at least professing ones. Things haven’t changed much. When a christian gets attacked today it’s not just by the ungodly who don’t know God but by fellow christians. Sometimes the reason is jealousy. It’s a sad state of affairs but true and everyone who God uses should be aware of it.

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