The burden of a shepherd’s care knows no holidays.
My Christmas present to you is the reminder that we must tribulate. This was a major issue with the New Testament churches. Paul’s letters are loaded with admonitions to embrace the otherworldly outlook, to know that this life was not worth the anxiety so very many people had. Jesus, of course, made it abundantly clear that this life did not compare to the glory of Heaven. Several times it is noted in the Gospels that He was looking forward to His crucifixion.
But it’s the worldliness of so many Christians that finally destroyed organized Christianity’s message. Get the picture: The churches faced the onslaught of Judaizers corrupting their doctrine from within, and the Roman government becoming increasingly hostile to the point of making Christian religion illegal. John in Revelation saw the onslaught getting worse and some portion of the organized churches compromising to become the Harlot Church. Do you notice how eloquent is his appeal to face persecution and death with shalom?
I think it’s quite reasonable to compare our situation with theirs. We are doing something new in terms of Christian religion. We are restoring a very ancient way of approaching the whole thing and the moderns around us don’t appreciate the insinuation that they have been wrong all along. On top of that, we dare to say outright that they are wrong. We teach that the intellect is fallen and that only the heart can truly touch the Spirit Realm in this life. We reference medical science to bolster our claim, but then we hearken back to the Scriptures and take seriously the language of the heart as the seat of faith.
Thus, we seek to tear down almost two millennia of compromise by which the Christian religion has been taken seriously by human governments and treated as an ally. That must have been just too much of a temptation to the Early Church Fathers, because they made the compromises necessary to gain Constantine’s official support. They set aside the otherworldly focus and the willingness to tolerate intellectual variations in the approach to Christian religion. It’s not that purity of doctrine isn’t important, but they agreed to apply a standard of orthodoxy that didn’t allow variations on the grounds that those who want to do it their own way can go off on their own. In other words, disassociation was not a sufficient tool of discipline for human government; they had to employ government force to compel everyone to toe the line on an intellectual level.
Not that it did them much good, as the whole thing broke down during the Middle Ages culminating in the Reformation, which in turn did nothing more than create multiple legal standards, all the while keeping alive the notion that government approval was essential.
No, government hostility is essential. That truth was lost way back there right after the last of the Twelve passed away. Okay, granted there are times when we should expect government to be neutral, to simply ignore us. That’s actually the ideal. Leave us to our madness and we’ll try to stay out of your way, Mr. Government Official. But sooner or later, when God’s plans call for His wrath to fall on some human government for whatever reason, it means we must stand up to prophesy of why it’s falling. When was the last government you saw that humbled itself before the Lord? Me neither; it means we should expect hostility.
And we should expect plenty of hostility from those in the existing mainstream religion who feel they have a vested interest in that mainstream status. Theirs is a cerebral, worldly religion that demands respect, which means compromising with this world. This virtual parish and our Radix Fidem covenant assumes a certain amount of hostility. We don’t pick fights, but we will prophesy the truth of things.
It’s not that I’m asking you to imagine hostility where it doesn’t manifest, but realize that it’s there waiting to see if God is going to promote this thing or not. Once we start getting noticed, there will be some limited influx of people looking for this kind of faith, but the general rule will be growing hostility. With Christ and Paul, I say get used to it. This is the norm. Teach it and live it.