EVERYONE WHO announces to have been called into any of the five-fold ministry offices indirectly suggests that the Lord Jesus Christ has appointed him. The Bible makes it clear that true ministers of the gospel are called and set in churches to equip the saints for the work of ministry by the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord personally said, “You did not choose me, but I appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide…” (John 15:16).
In fact, we know that Jesus Christ personally called the foundational apostles including Paul who were used to establish doctrines and pioneer the establishment of Christian churches. And the Lord firmly charges His ministers everywhere to follow Him and learn from Him (Matt. 11:29). Thus, those who obediently learn from the Head of the Church show some of His character traits in their lives or conducts.
One of the character traits of Christ which His ministers are expected to show in their conduct is gentleness. This is a moral quality which every Christian must demonstrate in all circumstances. To be gentle is not necessarily to be well-dressed, but to be amiable, affable or non-violent. Gentle Jesus lived with His neighbours including enemies in peace as He forgave even those who trespassed against Him. He refused to hold grudges against those who offended or hurt Him.
Someone may wonder if Jesus Christ, the Author and Perfecter of the Christian faith, was ever hated and insulted in the days of His flesh. Yes, the unbelieving world did persecute Jesus in various ways. They hurled insults at Him for doing nothing wrong. Christ Jesus never stole anyone’s chariot, never swindled anyone of their money and never killed anyone. He never took oil and cursed anyone with it or refused to pay His taxes.
In fact, the Jewish leaders had no incriminating evidence to press charges against Jesus during His trial at Pilate’s court. Jesus Christ simply lived as a patriotic citizen of Israel. The apostle Peter testified that Jesus went about doing good and healing people who were oppressed by the devil. Christ Jesus did good by feeding the hungry and preaching the message of grace, truth and hope to the poor.
In spite of all His good deeds, the unbelieving world mocked Him. In Matthew 11: 19, Jesus of Nazareth was called a drunkard, glutton and a friend of corrupt tax collectors and sinners. In John 10: 20, many people said, ‘He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him.” Then in Mark 3: 21, Jesus’ own family members joined the insulting brigade saying, ‘He is out of his mind.’ Then, in John 8: 48, 52, He was accused of being a Samaritan and demon.
Finally, in Matthew 13: 55- 57, people in Christ’s hometown ridiculed Him saying “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things? And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honour except in his hometown and in his own household.”
Again, Jesus said, “Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you (John 6: 26). This means no matter how perfect you are, and how excellently you perform, people will always speak ill of you. In other words, it is impossible to live in this world without people misrepresenting you, maligning you, criticising you, mocking you, scorning you, ridiculing you, gossiping about you and publishing false stories about you.
Now, if Jesus Christ, the man who never sinned or committed a crime suffered these things, what should His disciples who are learning to live perfectly in this world expect and how should they react? We should remember the word Jesus Christ taught. He said, “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you…” (John 15: 20).
Nonetheless, we are not talking about a Christian or minister being jeered for doing evil or committing crimes. We know that punishment is the consequence of sin, lawlessness, wickedness and wrongdoing. For instance, a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife may likely suffer for his evil actions. We are talking about a Christian being insulted or persecuted for the sake of Christ without sinning against anyone or breaking laws.
Now, Christ is the standard for every Christian. He is the one we are following and are commanded to learn from. He tells us to “….learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart…” (Matthew 11: 29). Throughout the Bible, Christ never encouraged His disciples and ministers to pay evil for evil. Rather, He said “….if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also…” (Matthew 5: 39- 40). Here, Christ was talking about forgiveness.
He Himself forgave those who afflicted and crucified Him (Luke 23: 34).
Thus, He asks that His ministers to forgive those who hurt or offend them. Jesus’ wise counsel to His disciples to rejoice when they are attacked may sound weird, senseless and as a sign of weakness, but it is great wisdom and strength. Silence is often a golden spiritual weapon to confuse and thwart the attacks of the enemy. It is a great way to proof our faith and total dependence on God, who fights our battles and whose job it is to judge justly and repay vengeance. Moreover, remaining silent often neutralises or incapacitates the wiles of the devil.
However, in Ghana, today, so many church leaders fail to exercise self-control. They fail to remain silent when attacked as Christ did and instructed. Many so-called ministers of the gospel are often heard trading insults in the media especially radio, television and social media at least provocation. Do these ministers really know Jesus Christ? Do they really follow Him and learn from Him?
By James Quansah