Twitter is my amusement park.
Looking at #KOT hashtag (Kenyans on twitter), especially when a non Kenyan decides to say something negative about a Kenyan, a new level of patriotism never experienced in person is always demonstrated.
But ths is not really what this post is about. What i have been thinking about is how does a christian respond to attacks and accusations. Especially alleged. Do we go retaliate by forming gangs and doing an ‘us vs them’ scenario, do we hit under the belly or what? We are human and it is not the flesh that is saved.
This is very different from how we respond when we are offended. However, sometimes we cross lines and mix everything altogether.
So, how do we respond.
A popular story goes as follows;
Mildred, the church gossip and self appointed monitor of the church’s morals kept sticking her nose into other people’s business. Several members did not approve of her extra-curricular activities, but they feared her enough to maintain their silence. She made a mistake, however, when she accused George, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his old pickup parked infront of the town’s only bar one afternoon. She emphatically told George and several others that everyone seeing it there would know what he was doing. George, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just turned and walked away. He didn’t explain, defend or deny. He said nothing. Later that evening, George quietly parked his pickup infront of Mildred’s house, walked home, and left it there all night.
That, by worldly standards, is a perfect clapback for all your accusers. However this is how Jesus clapped back . Matthew 5:20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
You see, by the time your accusers confront you, there has to be something. They must have studied the issue and are comfortable with their way and uncomfortable with yours. They must have looked at it and did not want a change to the status quo. They did not want to acknowledge that , maybe with the slightest chance, a change in the status quo is necessary. Or maybe, the much needed change puts them at a disadvantage, therefore making it an ego issue.
The Pharisees & Sadducees had mastered the law to the point of reciting it loudly outside of the temple for everyone to acknowledge that they are the experts. The Pharisees utilised this fact and played it to their advantage even when they were openly defrauding the people. As Jesus taught the beatitudes that day, He knew for sure that they would spark a debate and chose to be a different type of George. He clapped back. Jesus acknowledged that it was important to master the laws by heart but its full understanding is based on revelation given by the author and finisher of faith. Not flesh.
The first thought that comes to mind when you read the verse again is that Jesus was saying that you need to outsmart the Pharisees and Sadducees because the version that I read states ‘…unlessyour righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law…’ Let me see. Am I supposed to compete with the experts? Am I supposed to sit at their feet and let them teach me as I master their weakness? Well, yes & no. Yes because we need to learn the law and scripture. No because we do not aim to kill or maim each other as the Pharisees and Saducees did. Rather, we are supposed to build each other up as in the order of the beatitudes. Jesus was asking that we receive the gift of righteousness from Him and not our hearts because the type of righteousness that He offers isn’t external. External righteousness flactuates because it is dependant on the standard of the day. The level of righteousness that surpassed the Pharisees and the teachers of the law was relational & not just rational. You see, by human standards the Pharisees and teachers of the law were a perfect example of (external) perfection. Then pride kicked in. Then comfort kicked in because they knew they were above human reproach. Finally, leading to where we are.
When you further analyse that scripture, you realise that this is how we should respond to our attacker. We do not respond at their level but a higher one. Why? Because, we are partakers with Christ. Therefore, we should understand that we need to determine the end from the beginning. So, what is the end of that matter? Is it Godly? Does God approve the path taken? Or. Is it a battle for honor? Matthew 4 marks the beginning of Jesus’ active ministry. He knew that He was about to rock the boat and also that this would not go well with the experts of the time. Since, being God, He knew His assignment. He was careful that every word and action ensured that the His assignment was always in the picture.
This kind of righteousness that Jesus was looking for was a strange and new to His accusers. You see,if caught in adultery, death by stoning awaits as the status quo. However, Jesus was asking for poverty, mourning, meekness, hunger & thirst for righteousness, mercy, purity and peacemaking. This led to a righteousnes whose evil twin is persecution. Strange and new.
Equally, doing the same old things and expecting a different outcome is a fool’s tale. Similarly, the path of righteousness mapped out by the beatitudes only matures when there is a genuine relationship between Jesus and the you my dear christian. The beauty of this relationship is that when genuinely committed to it there is a realness and richness out of it that attracts well, ………the naysayers, the attacks, accusations……… in the process yet eventually bears good fruits even in moments of clapping back. Simply put is that out of the rich and genuine relationship with Christ, one is able to clap back in the maturity of Christ and not of men.
In summary, it is very much in order to clap back to accusations using three key ingredients i.e. Scripture, Law and Relationship with Christ. As to the quantities to use to make the perfect clapback, the most important is your relationship with Jesus Christ and all others will follow.
Dear Lord, help me to seek first your kingdom so that all other issues shall follow afterwards. As I seek Your kingdom, help me to know you deeply and richly. Guide me to experience all that you have for me fruitfully so that I may give a good report when I see you face to face. Where I fail, may the Holy Spirit teach me and console me to never give up on this journey to heaven. I love you Lord. Amen.