Misconceptions

Well, we have a New Year in front of us, so the thought crossed this aged mind of mine, to maybe partially deal with contentious issues, that present themselves, to all of us who believe and trust in Jesus, from time to time.

Infrequently (key word), I get emails from individuals who criticize me for being confrontational or taking issue with other Christians. Usually the assumption is aligned with the thinking that my words or criticism on a particular issue is being un-Christ like. The assumption being that any type of criticism or discussion that I author, that calls anything into question, by anyone who calls themselves a Christian, is motivated by a holier-than-thou attitude at best, or a disrespect for other Christians, at worst, attitude, and accordingly, I am being un-Christ like.

Of course, being the self righteous individual that I presumably am being accused of, I take exception to that accusation.

I should note that I am acutely aware of the necessity to self evaluate my accusations towards others, in concert with my own failings. That would be the “take the log out of my own eye, before I go about trying to remove the twigs from the eyes of others” aspect, that Jesus clearly draws our attention to.  And, in retrospect, I will acknowledge that this does indeed have a strong tendency to minimize my excursions into the “combat zone”.  And, in addition, I have learned from experience, that one selectively learns to differentiate between a “hill to die on” and a minor infraction, especially where differing opinions appear to be validly prevalent. The short story is that I do earnestly try to avoid unnecessary confrontation whenever possible. 

However (pause for effect), there are times when God’s Holy Word clearly tells us that we are to defend the faith, rebuke false doctrines and voice our dissent against that which contradicts, is contrary to or violates God’s stated will, for all of us. This link, which you can view here, provides a small sample of these clear directives. If these clear directives are acknowledged as such, by Christians, my question is, “Why are they so often also being ignored by those who wear the name of Christian?

My question to those who would criticize me for entering into the “combat zone” when it comes to issues such as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement or Roman Catholicism, as another example, is, “What exactly would your propose that Christ like Christians do?” 

Can anyone deny that Jesus was clearly confrontational in His words and actions to the Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes of the New Testament era? When Jesus cleared the temple of the money exchangers, would that be considered “confrontational”? When the Apostle Paul took issue with the sexual immorality that was taking place within the Corinthian church, was that being “confrontational”? Clearly, there are no shortages of examples where both Jesus and the Apostles were definitely and unquestionably “confrontational” to those who supposedly represented the teachers of the Old Testament Law and also with Christians committing errors that were being committed within the new bride of Christ. 

2 Timothy 3:16-17 states: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Did you notice those words “teaching”, “rebuking”, “correcting”, and “training”? I looked everywhere and I don’t see the word “optional” anywhere.

How about Jude 1:3 which reads: “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” Who is this addressed to? Would that be “entrusted to God’s holy people”? Did you see any exclusions there?

And then there is 1 Peter 3:15 which states: “but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” That “you” would appear to apply to all of us.

And finally (for this post), there is Matthew 10:16, which reads: “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be as wary as serpents, and as innocent as doves.” Are doves mute, do serpents not move? 

Far too many picture Jesus and the Apostles as they wish to see them, not as God’s Word reveals they actually where. The question is not why I am being sometimes accused of being critical or apparently confrontational, the real question is, especially towards those who see Jesus and the New Testament Epistle writers as “all accepting” and “non-critical”, “why aren’t there more of us being falsely accused?”

Something to think about.

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!

21 comments

  1. Right on the money, Bruce.
    As in all things there must be balance. We balance contending against error with declaring the truth of the gospel. We must also find the balance when it comes to selecting the “hills to die on” as you pointed out. All of this requires wisdom, experience, and Spirit guidance. I think that in general the more public contending is best left to those who are more mature in the faith and knowledgeable of the Word, but there are necessarily exceptions as the Holy Spirit sees fit. In New Testament times this might have been primarily church elders who were responsible for the doctrines taught in the local church, but now with the internet and the era of online public forums this is less clear-cut. Of course every believer was and is admonished to know the word, to test teachers and teachings, and to reject the false and uphold the true.

    Unfortunately there are another class of individuals online who I am sure you have encountered (there are innumerable such web sites), and that is the “self-appointed watchman.” There are some whose zeal for truth outpaces their maturity and their wisdom and who seem to believe they have been given the complete and correct understanding of Scripture and have been commissioned to “expose” every individual with a public voice whose teachings differ from their own at any point whatsoever, commonly throwing around the words heresy and heretic (and worse) like a juvenile might throw around clods of dirt or engage in name-calling. They often appear to be devoid of all humility and civility whatsoever. Unfortunately they cite the same scriptures as their charter and read all criticism or opposition to their own behavior as evidence of their own righteousness. Such people tend to give those who contend for the faith “properly” a bad name and equip those who would find fault with sound biblical criticism with a convenient “broad brush” for doing so.

    In any case, we should not be surprised at receiving opposition and criticism when we contend for the gospel. The world hates the gospel and sadly the world has shaped the attitudes of many within the visible church, sometimes unwittingly. I’m of the opinion that a lot of the criticism that appears to come from within “the church” comes from false professors who believe themselves to be “Christians” but whom the Lord does not own. Jesus said the gate was narrow and those who find it are few. If 40 to 50% of westerners consider themselves Christian that tells me that the majority are sadly deceived and are not.

    All we can do is try to be faithful to the Lord and obedient to the Holy Spirit and approach everything with humility, honesty, love and civility, forgiving and loving even our “enemies” as our Lord commanded. If we do this then even those who dislike our message will have nothing else to charge us with. You set a good example on this count, in my opinion.
    God bless!
    Craig

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    • Hi Craig, you’re right about that balance, especially with regard to the self-appointed watchmen that cast a negative shadow on just about everything. There’s definitely a learning curve involved with that one. I’m thinking your summary of “try to be faithful to the Lord” is key. Thank you for your kind words, Craig. Always appreciate your input, pro or con! Blessings!

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  2. “Is this the hill you want to die on?” is a key question. I have three criteria for answering that question: 1.) Am I certain that I am right and have the true scriptural perspective? 2.) Is the other person likely to be open-minded, or would I be “casting my pearls before swine,” wasting time and emotional energy, and end up being torn to shreds for the amusement of the God-haters? and 3.) Are there more important issues that I should be discussing with this person? (I don’t want to lose a relationship over styles of music and have the door slam on future discussions about repentance and salvation.)
    We’re promised wisdom if we ask for it (James 1:5), and we should ask every day.

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  3. I’ve come to the conclusion that when Christians object to hearing the truth on an opinion they don’t hold, it’s because that belief is different than those they are around. To them ignorance is bliss. They don’t want to rock the boat they live on. They don’t really want to dive in and see if what you said is true. Instead, you get an immediate rejection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Cindy, that’s definitely one of the main reasons, there can be others. Sometimes just asking if they are open to hearing another perspective, lets you know if the door is open or shut, especially as one lay person to another. Each situation is usually a little different. Asking for the leading of God’s Holy Spirit and waiting for His response is another good way to go. A learning curve is definitely involved. One does learn quicker by at least trying when led to do so, as opposed to doing nothing at all. And small steps initially, is also recommended, so that learning how to hold emotions in check, is included. All kinds of good things to learn! Blessings Cindy!

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  4. I would have never labeled you as confrontational. You call out lies and point out the truth. I, for one, appreciate what you are doing. 🙂

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    • Hi Nina, thank you for taking the time to let me know. Your kind words are sincerely appreciated. I still mess up once in a while, and the Lord lets me know. I do apologize when I could have done better and God’s grace does prevail, for which I am thankful. May our gracious Lord bless you and yours this New Year. Blessings!

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  5. Bruce, thanks for the good thoughts with Biblical foundation. As today’s evangelicalism drifts further away from God’s Word into the worldly concepts of undiscerning tolerance, plurality, inclusiveness, and relativism those who don’t bend to accommodation and compromise will be ignored and/or vilified.

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    • Hi Tom, unfortunately you are right, yet I still find it sad. This trek through the wilderness we are in relies solely on God’s guidance and our dependency in Him. One day at a time. Blessings brother!

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  6. If your teaching/correction is sound, it might be a case of Proverbs 9:8. “Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you.” It was true thousands of years ago and it is true now. The beginning of Proverbs speaks a lot about this issue.

    I say keep on keeping on! It was such type of blogs/articles/videos that helped me further learn about my faith when I began to follow Christ. It inspired me to think deeper and dig deeper.

    Take care!

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