2nd Timothy 4:2
“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.”
I have been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting on things, seeking the Lord’s gentle guidance, and He gave me an answer through something my pastor said a couple of weeks ago. One of the greatest problems facing the Body of Christ today is not from the outside, but from the inside: we sometimes are so busy attacking each other over doctrines or practices that we do Satan’s work for him. Case in point. I know of a group on facebook created as a forum for discussing the Bible. This group has over ten thoussand members, most of whom are not Biblical Christians. Yet, in spite of the fact that said group is filled to the brim with unbelievers and cultists of every stripe, most of the fighting I see and sometimes got caught up in was between Christians of different groups. For every Muslim that has attacked even just the Scriptures I’d post, I usually got attacked by several “Christians” all wanting to argue their particular set of doctrines. Some of the bitter, hateful fighting between people claiming Christ made it very easy to understand why the wars in Europe between Catholics and Protestants were so bloody. Now I have always had a heart for apologetics, for being able to explain the resons why we believe what we do and defending our faith, but that passion for the faith was used to drag me into some very hot and harsh debates…no, arguments.
When I read people teaching obvious, un-Biblical doctrines, it was always so easy for me to jump in and “set them straight”. As Pastor said, my heart was in the right place but I wasn’t following the Spirit very well; I was reacting from my flesh, not the Spirit. We should be able to correct and reprove, and obviously we are not to let slanders and lies pass unchallenged, but we are exhorted often to do it in a spirit of love, gentleness, humility and patience. We should never let ourselves get dragged into the bitter hatefulness that surrounds us, for when we do, we give Satan a perfect opportunity to discredit our witness as a whole. One of the most frequently heard criticisms of the Christian faith I hear is “you preach love yet hate each other.” They have a point. Jesus said the world would know us by our love for each other. Where is the love when the debate sinks to the level of name calling and hateful judgements on each other? During the Arian controversy of the early church bishops condemned each other in the most vile terms; riots ran in the streets and Christians killed Christians. We may tell ourselves that we are much better than that, but human nature hasn’t changed in 1600 years; look at the blood that has been shed in Northern Ireland in modern times by Protestants and Catholics who hated each other. Back to the present, Dave… I have resolved that from now on I will not fall into that trap. I will state the truth, and if you wish to press your attack in the name of proving how right and clever and learned you are, you may do so without me. All that matters is Christ crucified and resurrected in atonement for our sins. I don’t need to prove how clever and eloquent I am, for I am the least of God’s children. Argue and hate if you must, but do it without me.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.