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Summary: This message looks at the behavior of believers in a world that often exploits them.

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Christian Behavior In the Shadow of Exploitation

Hebrews 13:1-8

INTRODUCTION: Since the beginning of the church, Christians have been subject to abuses, prejudices, and negative acts. Here are a couple of examples that occurred recently, …:

June 5, 2006 -- DENTON, TEXAS (ANS) -- Secret Service agents recently showed up at the office of Great News Network in Dallas, Texas and demanded their entire stock of $1 million dollar gospel tracts that are produced by Ray Comfort’s ministry, Living Waters. The tracts are used by Ray Comfort and his co-host Kirk Cameron and have been promoted on their national television program.

Reports were that the Secret Service was also going to pay a visit to Comfort’s national offices in Bellflower, California and confiscate their entire stock. Apparently someone in North Carolina took one of the $1 million dollar tracts to a bank and tried to deposit it into their account, says a report from Christian Worldview Network.

Secret Service agents yesterday threatened evangelist Comfort with arrest for counterfeiting and seized 8,300 gospel tracts designed as "million-dollar bills."

July 31, 2006 -- BOGOTA, COLOMBIA (BosNewsLife) -- Leftist rebels in Colombia’s Meta Province hired a gunman to assassinate a Christian mother of four because she refused to stop proclaiming Christ, Christian rights investigators confirmed Friday, July 28.

Christian rights group Open Doors told BosNewsLife it learned that the woman, who was only identified with her pseudonym Jenifer for security reasons, was murdered because she had been leading insurgents to Christ, many of whom defected "from their illegal armed group."

August 11, 2006 -- MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (ANS) -- On Friday 4 August, India’s Supreme Court ruled that police do not require warrants in order to lodge First Issue Reports (FIRs), arrest and detain anyone accused of involvement in religious conversion activities.

HINDU TALIBAN

Clearly this ruling opens the door for police with Hindutva sympathies to act as Hindu Taliban. It also opens the door for Hindutva forces to employ corrupt and sympathetic police as their agents of persecution.

Nuns, pastors, bishops and evangelists, as well as Christian aid workers, teachers and social workers, are all immediately at risk of arrest and imprisonment because of their Christian witness. In fact every Christian, actively witnessing or not, is at risk from hostile elements that may exploit the opportunity to bring false charges against them, inspired by a variety of motives, in the same manner that the blasphemy law is exploited for personal gain in Pakistan.

So then, how should the believer behave in such a world as this? Well, the book of Hebrews was written to the church. Specifically the church in persecution! The writer of Hebrews says this:

Hebrews 10:34-35 34 You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

So, here at the end of this epistle the writer gives some behaviors, which are to be exemplified in the believer, EVEN when he faces mistreatment

I BROTHERLY LOVE

A The purpose

1 When we think about brotherly love, we need to think in terms of Jesus

a The love of Christ was sacrificial

b The love of Christ was proactive. Jesus did not just respond to others lovingly, He acted lovingly to them first.

1 God first loved us

2 While we were yet sinners Christ died for us!

3 Jesus even prayed for his crucifiers!

2 Love brings people to Christ

a People are looking for those who genuinely care about them. Biblical love by its nature is focused on the needs of others.

b Biblical love does what is good best and right for the other person.

3 Biblical love keeps believers united

Hebrews 6:10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

a Since this is “brotherly love” it reveals our common heritage in the family of God

b Each believer is part of the family of God

So, we “OUGHT TO” be brotherly loving, but HOW do we love brotherly? The Bible is more than “OUGHT TO” book it is also a “HOW TO” book.

B The process

1 Love has its foundation in relationship

2 One needs to have a relationship with others in order to love them.

a Relationship can be based on family ties

b Relationship can be based on friendship

c These are easy areas to express brotherly love

3 In order to expand our “love” we need to establish additional relationships

a We will not love the lost until we develop a relationship with the lost.

1 Not a relationship based on closeness or familiarity.

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