Why We Don't Defend Ourselves.

Since the beginning of the Church, it has been at the center of numerous controversies, upheavals, gossip and slander. This is no surprise because the Lord Jesus Himself told us it would be so (see Matthew 24:9, John 15:18-25). In fact, it was so much so that less than 30 years after the birth of Christianity some of the Jewish leaders in Rome, upon meeting the apostle Paul, described the Church like this:
We want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.
(Acts 28:22)
That’s not exactly a favorable description of the early followers of Jesus—that people “everywhere” are “talking against” it.

All this was in the age before the internet. Of course, vicious slander, pernicious rumors and terrible libel are nothing new, but now the situation has only worsened, with the most salacious accusations and slanders able to be easily leveled online with almost complete immunity. Even fellow Christians can say the most horrendous things about one another through internet forums and social media, in full sight of the world. Our little community of Christians has not been spared from this.

We take heart in the Lord and in His Word. The New Testament gives us some hints of what would be written on Jesus’ Yelp! account were His earthly ministry to have occurred in these modern times:

  • “He is demon-possessed and raving mad! Why listen to him?" (John 10:20)
  • “He’s not even really Jewish-–he’s a demon-possessed Samaritan!” (John 8:48)
  • “I used to follow him until he tried to tell us to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Run, don’t walk from this guy!” (John 6:52)
  • “Stay away. He deceived the people.” (John 7:12)
  • “There’s no way this man is from God.He doesn’t keep the Sabbath.” (John 9:16)

You get the idea. These are just some of the horrific accusations made about Jesus in His lifetime; however, over the centuries additional abuse has been heaped upon Him from every corner of the globe.

All this is only to say that, while we are aware of some of the gossip and slander spread about our fellowship, we have made the decision together not to engage with it, or spend time defending ourselves. We recognize that, as followers of Jesus, we were already told that this would happen:
“The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!” 
(Matthew 10:24-15)
Of course, it is not easy to do this. There are many good reasons for self-defense. A damaged reputation makes it harder to do good to others, as they are suspicious of your motives. It adds needless tensions between members of a congregation and members of their families, who hear about or read accusations and believe them. And, to be honest, it is simply painful (and even embarrassing) to have people thinking such terrible things about you and people you love. None of this outweighs the blessedness of what Jesus promises us:
“Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.” 
(Luke 6:22-23)
The purpose of this writing is simply to explain to anyone who is looking for our “responses” to various gossip about our little Christian community why they will not find it. We want to set our eyes on the Lord, doing good to as many people as we can in this world, and we do not want to allow our lives to be embroiled in any meaningless strife.

Richard Wurmbrand, founder of the ministry Voice of the Martyrs, suffered greatly for his faith under Romanian fascism and communism, including 13 years in prison. He gives Christians the following advice, which we take to heart:
Defending oneself when faced with accusations is not worthy of a Christian. Neither Joseph in the Old Testament nor the virgin Mary defended themselves when they were accused of things they had not done. Hold your peace, and God will defend you! You will be defended by the future development of events.
(Richard Wurmbrand)
It is our sincere prayer that the Father would, by His grace, give us the humility to admit and change when we are wrong, the compassion and love to forgive when we are wronged, and the wisdom and light to walk wisely before him in these dark days. We pray that in all these things, Jesus’ name would be honored and glorified in our midst. We thank you for taking the time to read this, and ask that the Lord would bless you with His love and peace. Amen.