Confronting Opposition as Christians
How do you confront those who are in opposition of your views and faith? Do you become forceful and oppressive or do you choose to be humble and move on? Which is right?
There was a guy that once tried to test my faith by seeing where I stood on political and social issues issues. In his mind, he felt that he was a soldier for the Lord and it was his duty not to let anybody go astray. This is something that I believe all Christians face, especially in our world today. Do we forcefully enforce our will on others because it will lead them to doing right or, do we allow them to “go astray”?
How you confront those that oppose your views says a great deal about you. It not only says a great deal about you, but it also says a great deal about your faith as well. This past week, I witnessed some of the most strife I’ve ever seen in this country personally. (And there has been much strife when you consider just the past 7 years or so.) Ohio, Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri passed bills against abortion which led to great outrage.
Those who passed and support the passing of these bills said repeatedly that they are doing these things because “life is a precious gift that comes from God.” Supposedly, they are standing firm in their faith! The question I have is, what does it say about our “faith” if we use our faith to cause and bring harm to others? Are you still doing good when you cause another person harm? I feel like we, as genuine believers (Christians) have to address these issues. In today’s sermon, I want to take a look at how we as Christians confront those whose view opposes our view?
Our view on things
You will recall that in last Sunday’s sermon, I spoke about our understanding. I explained how what we believe becomes our guide (our roadmap) for this journey of life. Again, I tell you that my faith shapes my outlook on life, so therefore, I live by my faith.
I feel I must share with you my thought on some of these political and social issues that we currently face in our society today. If anybody approaches me and tells me, “life is a precious gift from the Lord,” I would definitely nod my head in agreement. Life is definitely a precious gift that the Lord has given to all of us.
Life is precious
I do not agree with the practice of abortion because, again, life is precious. With that being said, we, as genuine believers, should also value and appreciate that life brings about choices. Do I like abortion? No. Should people be able to make choices in their life? Most definitely!
God, Himself, has given mankind a choice to either believe in Him wholly or not believe in Him. God does not dictate faith in Him to mankind nor does the Lord oppress mankind. Narrow is the path to the Lord if one chooses to walk down the path to get to Him (Matt. 7:13-14). Choice, in my opinion, is what makes the life that the Lord has given to us so special.
So, when we say that life is a precious gift from the Lord, we must evaluate whether or not we are actually treating life like it’s a precious gift from the Lord. I, personally, am not a fan of the death penalty because life is precious to me. To all of the school shootings that we have been witness too, I am all for some form of gun reform because life is precious to me. Maternity deaths are sky high here in Georgia (especially among black women), I’d like to see something done about this because life is precious to me.
We cannot be hypocrites on this journey! Once life matures to the point that it understands it has choices, we have to learn how to live with the choices people make! We cannot force nor can we oppress others into agreement with the life we have chosen for ourselves. God has not forced you into a life style, nor has the Lord oppressed you. We must follow in the way of our God.
Paul writes to us in 2 Timothy 2 what I believe describes the ideal character of a genuine believer. He starts off by saying to the believer (2 Tim. 2:23), “avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.” Strife is conflict; a bitter disagreement over fundamental issues. The idea here is that the believer should avoid causing (generating) strife. (If there is anybody that could teach us a thing or two about this, it would be Paul).
You may wonder, “what does Paul mean by foolish and ignorant disputes?” Let’s look at an example from this chapter of 2 Timothy. We are told earlier in the chapter that two individuals who had strayed from the truth were keeping up strife about the resurrection (or rapture) having already passed by (2 Tim. 2:16-18). We would think to ourselves, “we must confront these people about this lie!” After all, many of our first reactions are to confront those who disagree with our views However, Paul says to us, “avoid the foolish and ignorant disputes.”
Paul, I believe, says this because he knows the truth and believes the truth. He then tells us of a way that we should use to confront those who are in opposition of our view.
Be gentle and be humble
How should we confront those who are in opposition? Paul says to us, “a servant of the Lord must not quarrel.” When I think of the word quarrel, I think of what our society is doing today. We are in one big quarrel with each other on these political and social issues. Paul was firm on his belief that quarreling was not the way a believer should operate.
In Romans 14:19, Paul wrote, “[we should] pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which we may edify one another”. I haven’t made mention of the word edify in a sermon for quite some time. In case you have forgotten what that means, edify: to teach, instruct, or improve.
However, we see statements like “be gentle” and “peace” and we turn away from these ways. Why? Because, again, we attribute those words to being weak pushovers. There is nothing weak about being gentle (mild, kind, and caring).
Understanding and accepting
For whatever reason, we feel that scripture tells us that we must enforce (dictate) our faith on others no matter the cost! We sing and shout about being a soldier and fighting for the Lord. However, God does not want us to fight in a manner of fighting that some think. Yes, we should be fully convicted (definite) in our faith, but Paul declares, “In humility correcting those who are in opposition.”
We have to learn to understand that not everybody is going to agree with our faith and point of view. The genuine believer must learn to let those who disagree to have their disagreement and move on. If he or she disagrees with you, let him or her disagree with you! This, again, is another reminder of the command of love the Christ gave to His church. We shrink the idea of loving others down to only those who are in agreement and share the same views as us. (This is why there’s so much quarreling going on in households and outside of the house today.)
I am not a fan of the way things are done today. It seems that any time something goes against our view, we go into terminator mode instead of trying to get to a point of understanding. Some will not like to hear this, I know, but the truth of the matter today is that we are not being the type of soldier the Lord wants us to be. We have replaced confronting with humility with confronting with pure disdain – this is not Christ-like of us.
We do not want people to go astray and that is certainly good of us. However, at the very same time, we are not the Lord and so who’s to say they are going “astray”. That is our judgment in the current moment, but as Paul says, perhaps the Lord will grant them repentance – in the end it is up to God.