“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)
One morning while I sat in eighth grade history class, a group of misguided men, desperate to get into heaven, piloted a pair of airplanes into the World Trade Center towers. These men believed it was noble to be killed for their faith and that God would reward them. Instead of living right lives and turning the other cheeks to persecution, these men sought out a death they believed would bring a reward. They threw their lives away to hurt their enemies. Sadly I’ve met Christians with a similar attitude.
Many throw away their witness for the sake of baiting persecution. They brag about how angry people get with them, but being rejected is not the same as being persecuted. To share the rules of God without sharing love will guarantee persecution, but no reward from God. These evangelists speak harshly instead of with loving kindness and respect; they rejoice when their message is rejected flippantly, imagining they’ve earned a better resurrection.
To share Christ must be to share his selfless love. To preach without love is to preach something other than the gospel. If you share God’s word for social status, for self-improvement or to earn a better resurrection, you’ve missed the point. No such person belongs on a soapbox. They belong back at the foot of the cross. Only when pride and ambition have fallen off can such a person share the gospel in all its selfless, unconditional and life changing power.