I must start this post by telling you that my heart is aching. My heart is aching, because in many respects I see my brothers and sisters in Christ, who, against their own will, are beginning to look a lot like the world. These are Christians who hold the right views on many important subjects. However, the attitudes that they have display are anything but Christ-like. It seems as though the very same people who complain about the “mud-slinging” done in the political campaigns are every bit as quick to sling a little spiritual mud when it will help them in their cause.
I must say, that I am not mad at these brethren, I pray for them daily, just as I pray for myself. They are my brothers, my sisters, I love them, Jesus loves them! That however, does not mean that everything is “OK.” I will not be naming any individuals by name, nor will I address specific situations, I do not want this to be about mud-slinging, rather I want to biblically examine an attitude that too often is on display.
This is the attitude that “If we disagree (on anything) you are automatically wrong, and I am going to attack you.” This sounds almost silly typing it out that way, but unfortunately that is the attitude that seems to show. Let me be clear, I am NOT nor will I EVER suggest that as a Christian, when we see error, we should look the other way, ignore it, or worse yet “go along” with it. What I am suggesting, is that there is a better way of handling these situations.
In my short ministry I have had more than my fair share of people who I have disagreements with. Maybe it is that we disagree on politics, marriage divorce and remarriage, instrumental music, contemporary Christian music, hand clapping during singing, Bible study patterns/methods, favorite football teams, etc… Upon disagreeing on these points I have been told that I “Must not have a love for the truth like_______ does” and many other hurtful statements. The point is, I will never, and you will never agree 100% on 100% of issues 100% of the time. We are left to ask the question, WHEN there is a disagreement on such things, what are we as Christians to do? How are we to respond?
We Must Share Truth (as best we know) In Love.
Sharing the truth in love does not mean that you weaken the truth! Sharing the truth in love does not mean that you shy away from tough areas! Sharing the truth in love does not mean that you are afraid of conflict! Consider Jesus’ words of love from the cross upon which He was hanging “Father, forgive them” is anyone willing to say that this was a weak request? Consider what Jesus says in Revelation 3:19- “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline” Jesus taught that love, true love does not shy away, rather true love brings about the difficult discussions, why? Because we want people to be in Heaven!
The story is told- “A man walks into a local store and asks the manager “Do you have any baseball bats?” the manager assured him that he did, then asked him “Why do you need one?” to which the customer replied, “I need to kill my preacher!” taken back by this man’s comments the manager said, “sir, why do you want to kill your preacher?” the man went on to explain that his preacher told him he was going to hell. A few weeks later this same customer walked into the store, and asked the same manager for a “gift idea” the manager asked who he was buying a gift for? The man informed him that they got a new preacher, and he really needed a gift, you see, the new preacher told him he was going to hell. Really astounded by what was transpiring before his eyes the manager said, “Now hang on just one second! You came in here just a little while back wanting to kill your last preacher because he told you that you are going to hell, now your new preacher told you that you are going to hell and you want to buy him a gift?” “Well” , said the customer “My last preacher told me I was going to hell like it tickled him to death, my new preacher told me I was going to hell like it broke his heart!”
I believe many times, we are much like the first preacher. We are “doctrinally right” but we are motivationally wrong. I would humbly remind each one of us that we are not on this earth to win arguments or debates, this is a desire of man. We are here, to win souls which is a desire of God.
Many who would defend the argumentative approach will point to the fact that Jesus overturned the tables and drove men out with whips, they will also point out that Jesus was quoted as “calling out” the Pharisees with phrases such as “brood of vipers.” I would also like to point out that Jesus knew the hearts and thoughts of men (Matthew 9:4, Matthew 12:25) I do not have this advantage. I do not know a person’s heart, motives, and thoughts.
Even if I have the right doctrine, if my motives and my attitude are wrong, I will not win my brother, which is the ultimate goal! 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God does not want any soul to go to hell, which also tells me that needs to be my desire as well. A great friend and a great preacher Kevin Langford reminded me in a recent conversation “We need to remember that people are souls in need of salvation, rather than sinners in need of hell.” What a thought! As we examine the scripture we see this is the case with Christ, remember his feasts with sinners (Mk 2:16)? Remember his compassion for those that were like sheep without a shepherd (Mt 9:36)? Jesus didn’t blast them for not having a shepherd; rather His compassion moved Him to try to be their shepherd.
If our sincere desire is to win our brother, and promote unity within the brotherhood, strengthening one another on our way to heaven, I would recommend just a few practical things for you and I to implement in our own lives.
1. If you have a problem with a brother, do not post it on the internet, magazines, publications, or broadcast your complaint to anyone else. Rather, go to him alone. How many divisive issues would have never arisen had this Biblical step been taken in the first place?- (Matthew 18:15)
2. Before initiating any conversation on an issue where there is a disagreement, ask yourself the honest question, am I trying to win my brother, or the argument?- (Matthew 18:15, 2 Peter 3:9)
3. On political issues, before throwing mud at the elected officials ask yourself the honest question, have I been in prayer on their behalf? –“Romans 13”
“Father, please forgive us for our selfishness, our mistakes, and our desire to be right. O God, you are right, help us to find you. In Jesus name, Amen.”