Thursday, March 10, 2011

Important Insight from President Obama by Frank Viola

A few weeks ago someone posted a vicious comment on this blog which personally attacked a friend of mine who is engaged in serving the Lord. It wasn’t approved, of course. The person who posted the comment claims to be a Christian. I responded to the person privately with an opening question:

“How long have you known [my friend’s name] personally, how well do you know him, when was the last time you spent time in his presence, and what did he say when you shared these things with him face-to-face over coffee?”

I then went on to defend my friend.

The words of Martin Luther King, Jr. are very dear to me: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

When Bill O’Reilly interviewed President Obama earlier this year, he asked him this question: “Does it disturb you that so many people hate you?” Obama answered: “You know, the truth is that the people—and I’m sure previous presidents would say the same thing, whether it was Bush or Clinton or Reagan or anybody  . . .  the people who dislike you don’t know you.”
“But they hate you,” O’Reilly probed.
“The folks who hate you, they don’t know you. What they hate is whatever fun-house mirror image of you that’s out there, and they don’t know you,” Obama said. “And so, you don’t take it personally.”

Whether you support Mr. Obama or not, his words contain searing insight. And they are worthy to be remembered.

Here are some related thoughts to keep in mind. This is especially for those of you who have put your hand to the plow of God’s work . . . or you plan to someday:
  • People write things on the Internet that they would never dare say to any human being in person.
  • If you love and serve God, some people are going to hate you . . . no matter what you say or do. Sometimes it will be because of jealousy. Sometimes it will be for some other fleshly reason. Accept it, and don’t try to please everyone. Be faithful to your Lord. His opinion is what matters most. If you are walking with Jesus Christ, those who know you well will love and support you. Accept all opposition as coming from the hand of God. Satan may mean it for bad, but God means it for good. Romans 8:28 is still valid.
  • Historically, Christians have suffered the edge of the sword at the hands of their fellow Christians far more than by the hands of non-Christians.
  • Remember the words of Aristotle: “There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”
  • When someone thinks the worst of you and judges the motives of your heart, they are virtually always reading what’s in their own hearts back into yours. They are unwittingly exposing what’s inside of them (Matt. 7:1-5). (The person who wrote the vicious comment about my friend was imputing evil motives to his heart. Whenever a person does this, they are playing God. We have not so learned Jesus Christ. “Love thinks no evil,” Paul said, but always believes the best of others. “Unto the pure all things are pure, but unto the defiled, nothing is pure.”)
  • Most of all, keep in mind the words of your Lord: “Beware when all men speak well of you” . . . “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.”

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