Religious Extremism

 
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The headline was startling: “US evangelist wants Chavez assassinated” (<theage.com.au>, August 24, 2005). From statements that he later backed away from, conservative US evangelist Pat Robertson appeared to call for the assassination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, saying the leftist leader wanted to turn his country into “the launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslin extremism.”
The founder of the Christian Coalition and US presidential candidate said on his relgious TV program, the 700 club: “We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don’t need another $200-billion war to get rid of one…strong-arm dictator. It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operative do the job, and then get it over with.” But such a statement is hardly a representative of Jesus, who said: “Love your enemis and pray for those who persecuteyou” (Matthew 5:44). Jesus, in His last message, warned about false represenatives: “Watch out that no-one deceives you,” He said. “For…false prophets will appear” (Matthew 24:4,24).

1. How would we know a true representative of Jesus from a false one?

Matthew 7:15, 16 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them.

2. What is the mark of a true follower of Jesus?

John 13:34, 35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
A deeply spiritual writer, Ellen G White, has said: “The badge of Christianity is not an outward sign, not the wearing of a cross or a crown, but it is that which reveals the union of man with God. By the power of His grace manifested in the transformation of character the world is to be convinced that God has sent His Son as its Redeemer. No other influence that can surround the human soul has such power as the influence of an unselfish life. The strongest argument in favour of the gospel is a loving and lovable Christian” (The Ministry of Healing, page 470).

3. What did Jesus say are the most important commandments?

Matthew 22:37-40 “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself‘” (vv 37-39).
Renowned theologian Francis Schaeffer said, “Love—and the unity it attests to—is the mark Christ gave Christians to wear before the world. Only with this mark may the world know that Christians are indeed Christians and that Jesus was sent by the Father” (The Mark of a Christian, page 153).

4. What did Jesus say determines wisdom?

Matthew 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man.”

5. What should guide those who represent Jesus?

Psalm 119:105 “Your word [the Bible] is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Isaiah says: “If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light” (Isaiah 8:20).

6. How did Paul say we should overcome evil?

Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Jesus’ Attitude

7. How did the Pharisees of Jesus’ time reveal religious bigotry in response to His healing of a man on the Sabbath?

Matthew 12:14 “[They] …plotted how they might kill Jesus.”
Jesus, speaking of His followers, said, “A time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God” (John 16:2).

8. What was Jesus’ attitude toward those who were crucifying him?

Luke 23:34 “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

9. How did Stephen, who was stoned to death, reveal the same spirit as Jesus?

Acts 7:60 “Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.”

The Judgment

10. in the judgment, What will Jesus say to some who are religious and even performed miracles in His name, but don’t do God’s will?

Matthew 7:21-23 “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (v 23).
Paul says those who don’t “obey the gospel” will be punished with “everlasting destruction” (see 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

The US press blasted Robertson’s comments. The news media said the preacher had forgotten Scripture, referring to the Christian commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” The Post-Gazette of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said, “Mr Robertson has said other stupid things in the course of his career, but this is especially shocking, even by his standards.
True Christianity will always be characterised by genuine love, not by hate or revenge. Jesus said, “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).