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?