As Christians we are supposed to show mercy and grace to others. The difficulty arises when a controversial topic comes up. What are we to do then? Many people would say that we should avoid difficult or controversial topics and be at peace with all men. I’m sure we’ve all heard the old adage about not discussing religion or politics. How as Christians are we supposed to avoid the topic of religion? Isn’t everything we do and think supposed to be affected by our faith?
Since the scriptures are supposed to be our guide, let’s look at a few instances which deal with difficult issues. When Paul was warning the Galatians about false teachers he called them foolish (Gal 3:1). Sounds like he could have used a course in how to win friends and influence people. Then there was his issue with Cephas and Peter. In Gal 2:11 he writes that he told Cephas off to his face and Paul calls him condemned. Ouch! This dispute he had with Peter and Cephas is believed to have lasted 14 years. The issue, the salvation of the Gentiles. In 2 Tim 4:10 he also says that Demas deserted him and that he loved this present world. I point this out because many have problems if you name a certain pastor and say his teaching is false. They think that you aren’t giving them the benefit of the doubt. Let me show you what Paul has to say on the matter of teaching a false gospel.
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received he is to be accursed!
For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. Gal 1:6-10(NASB)
Do you think there is any purpose in him stating twice that to preach another gospel makes you accursed? Do you think he took it lightly? Was it just a matter of opinion? Did he seem worried about offending, or not being tolerant? Does it seem rather unloving and harsh? The truth is, he was very loving. He loved his brothers and sisters in Christ enough to tell them the hard things. He knew that it mattered eternally that he spoke the truth.
In much of Paul’s writings he is warning the church of the false teachers and doctrines they were finding in their daily lives. I’m sure after his letter were read in the church there were many who made statements like the following.
“Isn’t he judgmental?!”
“Who does he think he is, Mr. High and Mighty?”
“He needs to learn to be a little more tolerant of others and how they worship.”
Why is it today that when a false teacher is discussed it isn’t the teacher being questioned and ridiculed, but the one making the statements? Why are we so willing to throw all of the teachings about false doctrine aside and only misapply Matt 7:1? Why are we so willing to boycott a company because we don’t like their insurance plan’s regulations, but we are unwilling to take a look at those who name Christ? Have we not read Matt 7:21-23 and 1 Cor 5:12-13?
Now there are those who speak the truth, but don’t speak with love. I have met some of them. I have met some who don’t speak the truth, and don’t speak with love. Because there are some who don’t show love, doesn’t mean that all who point out false teaching or practice aren’t showing love.
Some don’t like absolutes and like to say, “You can’t put God in a box.” I’d like to agree with them. I can’t put God in a box. He put himself there. He put himself in a great big box, it’s called the Bible. He told us He would never change. He also admonished those who would add to or take away from His word.
Before you get angry that someone is being intolerant or controversial, ask yourself a couple of questions. Do I know what the Bible says about this topic or am I basing what I believe on what I have heard? How important is it that the truth of God’s word be proclaimed?
Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love or Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love. Eph 6:24(NASB)