Do not be surprised? By what? What is that supposed to mean?
If you’ve followed DNBS for any length of time, you know that this blog has evolved over the years. It’s an evolution, I pray, that has been for the better. Ten years is a long time, and I’m thankful to the Lord for graciously giving such a forum to me.
And while many things have changed in those ten years (including, most recently, the whole design of the blog), one thing has remained the same: Do Not Be Surprised.
So what’s the story? Why such a name? If chosen ten years ago, is it even still relevant? Well, let’s explore the answers to those questions together.
What’s the Story Behind the Name?
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the name of this blog derives from Scripture. There are two primary instances in the Bible where this phrase appears:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.1 Peter 4:12
Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.1 John 3:13
To be honest, a decade ago, my reasoning for selecting this name was a bit different from what it is today for keeping it. Since the past is irrelevant, let’s focus on the present.
When we consider the context of each of these verses, we see that both are set within a discussion of the inevitable persecution of the saints. Peter’s audience read his letter in the midst of intense persecution from Rome, yet they are encouraged to not only expect persecution, but to rejoice in it as a means of sharing Christ’s suffering. Persecution, trials, tribulation—none of these ought to surprise the believer, for no Christian is promised a rose garden.
But why? Why would persecution be an expected element of the life of the believer?
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?2 Corinthians 2:15-16
As Paul describes believers as “the aroma of Christ” to all people, we are not surprised, then, when the world—i.e., those who are perishing—hates us, for to the world we are a fragrance of death. By proclaiming the stumbling block of Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23), we are certain to incite the anger of those who are perishing. This anger, though inflicted upon us, is not directed toward us per se; rather, it is because of Christ that the world hates the Church.
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.John 15:18
This is indeed how Peter could say that we share in Christ’s sufferings, and it is how John could encourage his readers to remain steadfast and unsurprised at the world’s hatred toward them. Christians, by contrast, are known by their love, and John’s letter continues by expounding the notion of Christian love among the brethren.
So that’s the story behind the name; or rather, the portion of the story that matters. Now what?
What Does It Mean?
How is this relevant to the content of this blog today? This website initially began as a “discernment blog,” though I’ve clearly explained why I moved away from that genre years ago. Today, this blog exists for two primary purposes:
- To exalt Christ.
- To edify the saints.
How is that accomplished here? By pondering Scripture; by occasionally tackling controversial topics, either here or at its sister ministry, Equipping Eve; and by, in all scenarios, ultimately pointing readers to the One in whom salvation is found, the Lord Jesus Christ.
None of those things will win points with the world, but the world’s kudos aren’t worth much. By contrast, each of those endeavors will, I pray, encourage and equip the saints who visit, preparing you to stand unmoved and unsurprised by the persecutions and trials of the world. I can certainly attest that preparing and writing the material posted here has had such an effect on me over the years! Indeed, time spent in God’s Word always leads to encouragement and equipping.
Finally, it is my prayer that if or when God does ordain for someone to visit this site who does not yet know Him, that the truths contained here would clearly and unashamedly point that unbeliever to Jesus. I pray that those who visit who have not yet repented and trusted in Him for salvation would see their great sin and their great need, for DNBS exists to proclaim a great Savior who forgives and makes new.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.2 Corinthians 5:17-21