[Part 4 of 7 – Tough Love]
Christians often hold an “Us vs. Them” mentality when it comes to those who are opposite them on issues.
Unfortunately, because of that, it tends to make us think that we are in a battle. And in battle, there are always casualties.
I fell prey to this myself, and still do on occasion, when it comes to debating the issues. Hiding behind the guise of “debate,” I would be intentionally insulting to those with dissenting viewpoints just because they were insulting to me first.
“He started it!”
Funny, that line never worked with my parents, so why would I think it will work with God?
There was a time in Christian history where the prevailing rule was “eye for an eye.” But, like many rules from the Old Testament, they were set in place for a specific group of people and a specific time under the old covenant. When Jesus came and established the new covenant, he amended that rule, saying instead to turn the other cheek.
Which, I’ll admit, is no fun.
You mean we are supposed to just sit here and take it?
Well, yes and no.
Jesus never said not to stand up for what’s right, in fact, quite the opposite. But there is a big difference between standing up for what’s right and retaliating against who’s wrong.
What purpose will a Christian protest serve? If one sees a group of protestors, most people always have a negative feeling towards them, even if they agree with the protest, simply because protests, as a whole, are largely filled with “hate” or “anger” of some kind.
That is not how Christians should present themselves.
What’s worse is when Christians interject themselves into politics. I mean, we’ve all seen the late Jerry Falwell, Jesse Jackson, Pat Robertson, and Al Sharpton, all pastors, get on TV every time a political or social issue arises and what comes out of their mouths all comes to one conclusive point: Everyone who doesn’t agree with me in going to Hell.
I’m not saying those men haven’t done some wonderful things, but how would we know? All we ever see them doing is complaining or gloating, two very negative actions.
And that is because we have assigned positive and negative emotions to certain descriptions of people. Chances are if I mention “the unsaved” or “the lost,” you, as a Christian, get a sad feeling in your heart, a compassionate feeling, your heart reaching out to those who haven’t found their way.
But, if I say that this person is “pro-choice” or a “homosexual” or “eats bunnies,” chances are, you suddenly have no desire to witness to this person, to reach out in Christian love, because we have been conditioned to feel this way.
This is also the reason many of the unsaved have negative feelings towards Christians.
And so, we don’t witness.
Penn Jillette, one half of the comedy magic team, Penn & Teller, is an avid atheist. In Penn & Teller’s HBO show Bullsh–!, he has made it a personal goal to debunk the Bible and Christianity in general. And yet, he encourages people to witness to him.
In a video blog, he told a story about a sincere Christian man who came up to him after a show and handed him a Gideon’s Bible, with a little note inside. Penn said the man was genuine, kind, respectful, and truly complimentary. Penn liked this guy and appreciated the gesture greatly.
Penn then said something that struck me as odd, because I’ve been conditioned to think that all Atheists want nothing more than to pack all the world’s Christians on a giant boat and blow it up in the middle of the Atlantic. He said that he believes that Christians should proselytize (witness). He said if you really believe in an eternal life that only Christians get to go to, “how much do you have to hate someone not to tell them about it?”
But Christians all too often play the victim because they were insulted or hurt by someone with a dissenting view of Christianity or their own personal doctrine.
Celebrate Recovery, a faith-based 12-step program originating out of Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, has a saying:
“Hurting People Hurt People.”
When you hold a grudge, the only things you can do are forgive it or hold on it. Holding on to it poisons your soul to the point where you think, “Well, those people don’t deserve salvation.”
I know, you’d never say that out loud, but… are you saying it with your actions?