Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 18, 1969
NUMBER 20, PAGE 6b-7a

Who Has Been Mistreated?

Wm. E. Wallace

It is the fashion of man in moments of weakness, or in a leveling off period in his personal growth pattern, to complain or murmur over mistreatment. We mistreat one another in our human and mortal inclinations to be discourteous, inconsiderate, or careless. In fact, when we yield to the influence of the flesh we even bite and devour one another. As victims we sometimes cry on shoulders, or emit sour grape feelings, or pout, or display malice.

During my time in military service, it was our custom to caricature the complainer as a long haired, sad, violin player, stringing dirges or mournful refrains. Sometimes this worked to bounce a man out of his doldrums, but occasionally it created a minor brawl! Occasionally I was the object of the performance.

We have noted along the way, in the controversies of the 1950's and 1960's, how some have complained of their treatment at the hands of "liberals". Meetings have been cancelled, numbers have been forced out, or locked out, of buildings holding sentimental associations. Many have been victims of campaigns of calumny. Financial adversity, and family insecurity have resulted. Countless other hardships have been brought on by circumstances, events and attitudes arising from the "present distress". Untold inconveniences and unnumbered wounds have been incurred. The life of a Christian — it is a great life, if you do not weaken.

There is a story of a Christian woman who quit the church because she had been mistreated. The preacher paid her the normal "pastoral" visit and listened to her grievances. After she had run down, she concluded by asking, "Do you know anyone more mistreated than me?" "Yes", answered the preacher, "Well, who?" "Jesus." The woman was back in service the next Sunday.

We've witnessed a number of journalistic slaps from erstwhile preachers who quit regular local work because of general mistreatment, or something of the sort. I suspect all of us have cried a little over being victims of misbehaviour, and I suppose we all have fiddled sad strains, or sat under Elijah's juniper tree.

The saddest thing about this weakness in mortal preachers and writers is the danger of waging a reactionary battle on the basis of hurt, personal hurt, rather than on a firm foundation of scriptural principle. The fight a man wages, may be a legitimate cause, but when he is reacting to personal hurt his spirit likely will not be admirable nor his weapons spiritual.

Paul, James and Peter suffered considerably at the hands of misguided brethren and cantankerous exponents of error. They can speak with more authority and from more vivid experiences than can we. Let's listen to them:

Paul — ". . . but we glory in tribulation also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience ..." (Romans 5:2)

James: "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience." (James 1: 1 — 3)

Peter: "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations . . . " (I Peter 1 :6)

Consider Jesus also: "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad..." (Matt. 5:11 — 12)

In some things we have been hearing for twenty years, from wounded brethren, and especially from things written of late, it appears that many are possessed with considerable bitterness. Others show a sour disposition or a disgruntled spirit, or a resentful, vindictive nature. Brethren, these things ought not so to be.

We conclude this article, hastening to say that our understanding of the situation indicates to us that most have emerged from the trials of the present distress with a wholesome outlook. But... there are the others, good men though they may be, who have discolored and marred the image of "conservatism" by their intemperate and excessive doings.