I recently heard of a book called “Being the Bad Guys – How to live for Jesus in a word that says you shouldn’t” (Stephen McAlpine, The Good Book Company, 2021)
Ann Lim, reviewing this book says that the author suggests that our contemporary Western culture “has changed its view of Christianity from being moribund and empty to being positively toxic and dangerous [particularly] in areas of sexual ethics and gender. Christians have progressed from being the good guy to just one of the guys – one option among many – to being the bad guy.” (https://www.eternitynews.com.au/in-depth/what-i-learned-from-being-the-bad-guys/ )
McAlpine says: “Biblical ethics are not seen merely as laughable or outdated or repressed but as shameful, harmful and repressive. Our views are not merely seen as wrong but dangerous.”
The theme of the book concerns the “lost art of self-denial”.
In some ways not a lot has changed from the days when Psalm 94 was written which deals with similar types of attitudes amongst people in those days who said, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob takes no notice” (verse 7),and then arrogantly went their own self-centred ways. The psalmist describing their activities as:
4 They pour out arrogant words;
all the evildoers are full of boasting.
5 They crush your people, Lord;
they oppress your inheritance.
6 They slay the widow and the foreigner;
they murder the fatherless.
But sadly, many people are in for a terrible shock because the reality is that The Lord is a God who avenges (verse 1). And so, the psalmist calls all who have the opinion similar to those who consider that “Christianity [is] … positively toxic and dangerous” and think they can deny the existence of God and reject his truths to:
8 TAKE NOTICE, you senseless ones among the people;
you fools, when will you become wise?
9 Does he who fashioned the ear not hear?
Does he who formed the eye not see?
10 Does he who disciplines nations not punish?
Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge?
11 The Lord knows all human plans;
he knows that they are futile.
And so, the psalmist prays to God, the judge of the whole earth and he says:
O God who avenges, shine forth.
2 Rise up, Judge of the earth;
pay back to the proud what they deserve.
3 How long, Lord, will the wicked,
how long will the wicked be jubilant?
So then, how should we, who live for Jesus in the 21st Century, respond to becoming “the bad guys”?
One of the key teachings of the Bible, including this psalm is that it is God who will judge and it is not our place to avenge those who wrong us. As Paul says in Romans:
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good…
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse…
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. [quoted from Deut. 32:35] …
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12)
From the website quoted above, Ann Lim says:
McAlpine “then presents some ideas of how the church can move forward as a creative minority. Embracing the margins rather than fighting for the centre not only takes the heat out of the debate but it also gives us a chance to observe the bigger picture and prepare to welcome what he calls a “tsunami of the broken and wounded who will wash up on our shores”.
“When the actual victims of the culture start looking for grace and solace from its bruising brutality, we should make it easy for them to conclude that we have been the ones to provide that all along.”
May we, and many who now deny His love and grace, be eventually able to say:
Whenever my … thoughts were out of control,
the soothing comfort of your presence
calmed me down and overwhelmed me with delight. (Psalm 94:19 TPT)