In recent months, the controversy surrounding Christianity has seemed to rage wildly. Sadly, many Christians have only fueled the fires of indignation and rage the world has within their hearts. I have read posts and comments from both sides of the issues, and the amount of venom and vehemence truly saddens me. However, more than just being saddened, I am downright disturbed by the actions of some who claim to be Christians.
Who am I speaking of? I am speaking of those who have taken it upon themselves to wage war with our world and the people in it. I am neither speaking of, nor thinking of anyone in particular. Rather, I write only of the kind of Christian who feels the need to strike out (or strike back) with anger, poisonous speech, and words that Yosemite Sam could only describe as, “Them’s fightin’ words!”
Before I explain why I am saddened and disturbed by the actions and words of these Christians, let me say plainly that I have wanted to write this for the past several weeks but have spent that time in prayer, so that I am not reacting or spewing the same kind of vitriol.
My issue stems from the fact that some of these Christians have seemed to have lost sight of the fact that they are speaking to and about actual people. Not nameless, faceless, mindless, monsters. Let me say it as plainly as I can:
We are NOT at war with people of any race, creed, orientation, colour, or anything else. As Christians, we are NOT at war with people. Let me remind us all of Ephesians 6:12.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
The Contemporary English Version says it this way:
“We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world.”
That should be pretty plain for us to understand. We are not in battle with humans, regardless of who they are or what they believe. We are in a battle with the “forces and authorities and rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world.”
Now, I’m certain that there’s someone out there who’d say, “But sin is part of the 'darkness of this age.'" You’re absolutely right; sin is wrong! Even though sin is wrong, let me remind us all that the example CHRISTians are to follow is that of Christ. What did Jesus do? He loved and accepted sinners. He did NOT accept the sin, but He accepted and loved the people.
I’m reminded of the adulteress in John 8. Everyone seems to remember when Jesus speaks to the woman’s accusers. After all, it’s an impressive, memorable moment and should be remembered!
“7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.” (John 8:7-9)
Impressive right? But that is not where the account ends, though it seems as though everyone remembers only those words. No, the account continues in verses 10-12:
10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
Jesus did not condemn her, but He DID instruct her to go and cease her sinful ways. Then, speaking to His Disciples, He explains that those who follow Him will walk in light, not darkness.
We see Jesus loving and accepting a woman who was a sinner, but not accepting the sin. He tells her to leave the sin behind, and then teaches that His followers are to walk in the light.
Okay, maybe that was a little bit of a rabbit trail, but it’s vital to my point. When we Christians lose sight of the fact that we are to LOVE sinners and hate the SIN, when we blur the lines and see sinners as the sin they commit, we walk away from the example Jesus set.
How many of you as Christians would like to be labeled with the sin that you commit? How many of you would like the world to see you only as your sin and not as a person? And lest anyone get self-righteous and prepare to claim that they don’t sin, let me remind you of 1 John 1:8:
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Would those who deal with lust like everyone around them to see them only as lecherous, lusting people? Would those who deal with lying like to have the world see them solely as liars? Would those who deal with anger enjoy everyone seeing them as mindless rage machines?
If we cease to see people as people, and see them only as the sin in their lives, we are NOT following the example of Jesus, and we are being poor stewards of the love and forgiveness that the Lord has shown us!
Please understand me when I say that, I am not excusing sin. Sin is wrong in God’s sight. That said, God’s Word teaches that sin is sin. There are no degrees of sin, and someone else’s sin isn’t worse than your sin.
James 2:10 says, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”
Sin is sin is sin is sin is sin is sin is sin. Someone else is NOT worse than you. The sinner is NOT their sin. Again, look at how Jesus speaks of those in sin. He speaks repeatedly of them being in spiritual darkness, and being “blind.”
Matthew 15 contains one such example. The Disciples come to Jesus saying that the Pharisees were offended by His teachings. He replies in verse 14:
“Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.”
So tell me, oh Christians of the internet, what do we do with the blind? Do we attack and rage against them for being blind, or do we reach out to them in the love of Christ? Do we get upset and offended at them, or do we “turn the other cheek,” and continue to try to share the love of Jesus with them?
Admittedly, a large part of the recent controversy and my reason for writing this comes from the issues with Phil Robertson. Let me explain that I have not ever watched his show, and from what I understand, he has since been reinstated. Still, it was in discussions of Duck Dynasty and A&E that so much vitriolic speech was found. Putting aside whether or not the entire fiasco was justified, let me ask my fellow Christians a simple question:
Is a reality show worth having alienated people who need the love of Jesus? Is it? I’m not speaking of Phil Robertson’s comments, but those of Christians who tried to defend him with hate that cuts just as deeply as knives. Were the arguments and angry words worth making sure that people will never listen to what you have to say?
Oh, I am certain that many thought they were justified in their comments and in defending God and Phil Robertson, and I’m sure that some thought they were “fighting back against injustice.” Still, vengeance does NOT belong to the Child of God!
Referring to Deuteronomy 32, Paul wrote in Romans 12:19, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
As a side note, let me draw your attention to verses 20 and 21 as well.
20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
If you truly want to fight the “good fight”, then fight against darkness by shining the light of God; not by attacking those who are in the darkness. If you want to “overcome evil,” you do it with good!
The next time you are tempted to turn both barrels on someone for disagreeing with you, remember the words of Paul in Colossians 4:6 - “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
As I’ve said before, that’s SEASONED with salt, not an overloading avalanche of salt that will ensure that nothing ever grows.
May I remind us all again that we are ambassadors of Christ? As His ambassadors, we are accountable to Him for how we represent Him. Have you properly represented our Lord?
Now that I have touched on (hopefully) every base and issue that might rise in your minds, let me speak to the fact that God is a Righteous God as well as a God of Love.
Yes, God is a God of Love and we are called upon to show His love to all people. Yes, God will one day stand in judgement of the entire world because Holy God cannot abide to have sin in His presence. We see that fact throughout Scripture.
Still, it is GOD that stands in judgement, not us. If you ask me that’s a wonderful thing. I don’t want to be responsible for judging the earth any more than I want the earth judging me.
Permit me to summarize briefly as this has already become much longer than I had intended it to be.
As Christians, we are called upon to show the love of God, and to declare His Word. We are to “preach the Gospel” (Good News). We are to fight against the spiritual darkness of this age.
We are NOT called upon to wage any kind of personal war. We are NOT intended to dole out God’s righteous judgement; that right is His alone. We are NOT some Holy Avenger; vengeance belongs to God.
We ARE called on to love sinners, though we hate the sin. Sin is equal in God’s sight. That means that the gossipy grandmother is sinning just as much as anyone else. No one’s sin is better or worse than yours; it is sin and sin is sin.
Please allow me to end this with a personal note. This blog post is not intended to attack anyone, or any group. This is merely a reminder to fellow Christians around the internet that we are representatives of our Great God, and we need to represent Him properly.
This is a call to return to a war against spiritual wickedness rather than against people. This is a reminder to stop doing the Devil’s work, and to do the Lord’s work.
And finally, I leave you with the words of Petra, a group I still listen to at times.
“Do you remember what He's called you out of?
Do you remember where you were?
Let us not take advantage of His love,
That we forget that we have been forgiven.
Without Him we can do nothing.”
Remember, we are only able to claim kinship with Jesus because of what HE has done. Without Him, we are just as lost and stumbling in the darkness.
Walk in the light as He is in the light!