I’ll be honest with you. If you haven’t been following my series (Belligerent), you probably won’t appreciate this conclusion as much as if you had. You might want to go back and at least read pt.1, 2, and 3.
I’ve been spending the last five months creating a case for ‘belligerence’ in the church. The church (not all of the church but some of the church) is too violent. We have become hostile, brutal brawlers towards those we disagree with politically or theologically. It doesn’t matter if it is the non-Christian world or fellow-Christians, we are too willing to draw blood.
It is my concern that there is too much violence from the pulpit, the pew, and social media and not enough peace from the pulpit, the pew, and social media. Because of this, I want to be part of a new peace movement within the church. I want to be part of a new anti-war movement among Christians. I want to promote non-violence between sisters and brothers, and this series has been my attempt to help those interested move in that direction.
This doesn’t mean that we will all agree. We can have opinions, strong opinions. We can hold to our convictions. I agree with Paul who said, “The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:22-23)
But…when our opinions and convictions differ from someone else’s (whether they be followers of Jesus or not) we must not become belligerent.
When I read the words of Jesus and the authors of the New Testament I find myself challenged to evaluate my reactions to those who I disagree with. For example:
Because Jesus, in the ‘High Priestly Prayer’ of John 17, prayed three times to the Father that his followers “may be one”, I ask myself, “Are my words, attitudes and actions creating oneness or two-ness? By ‘two-ness’ I mean a division, my group versus their group.
One theme from the book of Hebrews is that Jesus is a different kind of priest than those under the old covenant. Did you know that the Latin word for ‘priest’ means ‘bridge-builder’?
Peter calls us a ‘royal priesthood’ (I Pet. 2:9), I must ask myself, “Are my words building bridges or building walls?
Three times Jesus told us to ‘love one another’ (Jn. 13:34, Jn. 15:12,17). Do my attitudes towards those I disagree with reflect love…or something less than love, or even contempt and judgment?
Paul added to Jesus’ reminder to ‘love’ by say in I Cor. 13 that love is patient. I must ask myself if my words and actions and attitudes towards those I disagree with reflect patience or impatience? Do I rush to correct, judge, or label someone who is different than me?
Paul said in Gal. 5 that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I must ask myself if my words or actions or attitudes towards those I disagree with are filled with that type of fruit? I fear that sometimes I have fruit but it is rotten, worm-filled fruit.
Peter said (I Pet. 2: 17) to show honor all people. Does my life reflect showing honor to those I disagree with?
Because Paul told Timothy, “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth…” (II Tim. 2:24-25), I must ask myself if my words or actions or attitudes towards those I disagree with are quarrelsome in nature, unkind, impatient, lacking in gentleness?
There’s always a ‘YEAH BUT.’
Yeah, but what about orthodoxy?
Yeah, but what about heresy?
Yeah, but what about bringing correction?
Yeah, but what about loving the sinner but hating the sin?
Yeah, but what about defending the truth?
Yeah, but what about Jesus turning over the tables in the temple?
Yeah, but what about holiness?
Yeah, but what about obedience?
Yeah, but what about speaking the truth in love?
Yeah, but what about balance?
What about it?
I believe there is a place for all the ‘YEAH BUTS’ but I also believe that we’ve been giving too much of a place to them.
Believe me, if I choose to not correct others or act belligerently towards those I think are in error there will still be enough correction and belligerence out there to get the job done. The ‘YEAH BUTS’ are alive and well, they aren’t going anyplace. Those who feel an obligation to fight are alive and well, they aren’t going anyplace. I’m not worried about a lack of the ‘YEAH BUTS’, correction, or belligerence. I want to be part of something different.
This series you’ve been reading is a call…a call to:
Peace without compromising our Biblical convictions,
Unity while accepting diversity,
Honoring all people despite strong disagreement,
Evaluating our words and attitudes and action in light of the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5),
Letting someone else do the correcting,
Putting an end to the belligerence,
Being part of an anti-war movement.
That’s where I’m going. Do you want to come with me? Let’s join hands and go there together.