Published June 21, 2016

Paul's Epistle
"Surprising Christians"

Are you a "surprising" Christian?

Do you do things that surprise non-believers because you act completely contrary to their negative expectations of you, or, for that matter, their expectations of Christians in general?

The world today has such a negative opinion of Christians. This shouldn't come as a surprise to us. It's nothing new. But I love to see instances of where those stereotypes are shattered by genuine Christians who do what Christians are supposed to do — love.

Non-Christians believe that all Christians are hateful bigots regarding non-Christians, especially those of certain groups. In fact, the word "hate" has been used so extensively by anti-Christians in recent years that all Christians are painted with a broad "hate" brush. Even Bible-based Christian sermons are often labeled "hate speech" by this crowd. But that just makes it so much more surprising to them when Christians act like Christians — in a very non-hateful way.

Here's a good example. After the recent mass shooting at a "gay bar" in Orlando, Florida, Chick-fil-A, which is normally closed on Sundays, opened their nearby restaurant to donate (not sell) chicken biscuits and orange juice to the police, first responders and firemen who had been serving at the scene.

That shocked some people. But DC Gazette writer Vianna Vaughan was especially surprised about others who were also given food. "Those people were waiting to give blood to victims that were mostly gay people," she wrote. "Doesn't Chick-fil-A hate gays? That's what we kept being told." You can almost hear the incredulity in her voice as she writes, "Turns out that while the founders [of Chick-fil-A] definitely don't approve of that choice of lifestyle, they believe in compassion. Who knew?"

Surprise!

In a similar incident, a year ago last Friday, Dylann Roof walked into Emanuel African Methodist Church in downtown Charleston, SC, and shot and killed nine people, including the senior pastor and a state senator. More were wounded. "Everyone" expected outrage from the victims' families against the shooter in the racially-motivated massacre. Instead, the Christian families offered the shooter their forgiveness. Forgiveness rather than hatred and condemnation?

Surprise!

The Pharisees brought to Christ a woman who had been caught in adultery, expecting the Lord to condemn her and, perhaps, order her stoning in accord with Old Testament law. But he shamed the Pharisees by saying, "He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone" (John 8:7). One by one the accusers left. Contrary to their expectations, Jesus then compassionately forgave the woman, telling her to go and sin no more.

Surprise!

I love it when the truth surprises and, yes, even stuns non-believers. They are caught completely off-guard because true Christianity is something so different from what they have been taught repeatedly – continuously – by secular society, including the media.

But aren't you glad that, as in these few examples, God has a way of taking even the worst of circumstances and bringing Himself glory, especially through His people who are obedient to Him.

What can you do to "surprise" someone – in a Christian way – today?

- Paul

Comments on this? paul@thegospelgreats.com

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