I thought I’d take the step of loving the church to a place not many are comfortable with: the truth.
In my last post I talked about Christians who leave the church because they were hurt or humiliated, but this time I’d like to make a shout of defense for the church and the Christians who may have hurt others.
We know it’s true that the church has condemned its sheep, and it’s unfortunately continuing to do so; but maybe there are times that if someone is hurt, it’s not because of condemnation or humiliation, but because of the Gospel itself. Now don’t go down the wrong track here, Jesus is loving, compassionate, kind, and full of mercy and grace….. But He spoke the truth, and it hurt and offended quite a lot of people. The jews killed Him over the words He spoke.
Christians today, however, are too scared to offend. We shy away from the truth in order to keep peace, and while we should make peace with our enemies, if it’s in exchange for the Gospel, I don’t believe we’re fulfilling the call of Christ. We say, “Maybe if we’d love more,” or, “If we show Jesus in our actions, we’ll woo the non-believers over.” Of course that way of thinking is correct; atheists turn their backs on Christ mostly out of the misperception we’ve given Christianity by being either legalistic to the point of drowning out all freedom, or through a false view of God Himself. But I’m beginning to believe that simply wooing unbelievers over is the wrong way of thinking.
Jesus spoke the truth. We all know that. And we also know the truth is to be spoken in a loving manner, but the fact of the matter is, the truth spoken in love has the potential to offend and hurt other’s feelings.
Maybe we’ve placed our own feelings on a pedestal. Maybe they are the most important thing. But some of the things Jesus said make me believe He didn’t care too much about them, or at the very least, had them on the bottom of His list. Of course He’s loving, is a friend of sinners, and desires to have an intimate relationship with us, but He also threw over the tables in the court. He also called the Pharisees a “Brood of Vipers.” He told the rich young ruler to give all he had to the poor. He told the adulterous woman to sin no more. I’m sure He wasn’t concerned about Peter’s feelings when He called Peter “Satan” and rebuked Him. And above all, He told us in order to follow Him, we needed to repent, deny ourselves, and take up our crosses. Those are hard, uncomfortable pills to swallow, but they were the truth.
Now to flip the coin, Jesus does care about our feelings. He loves us, we can’t say that enough. He loves us so much, He’ll risk offending us for our own good. Like a father who disciplines his child in order to help him grow into a better man. He won’t condemn, He won’t be rude and pushy, but He will speak the truth. It isn’t love if we go through without feeling any pain.
So in defense of the church, maybe there are times when they hurt someone because they’re preaching the true Gospel. We don’t intend to hurt or offend, but if the Gospel brings to light a sin or fault within them, it’s painful. But, if I may add, the truth shouldn’t be used to cause humiliation and embarrassment. As a father would take his child away from the crowd to show discipline, so should we do to God’s sheep. If they rebel, then bring in another, if they rebel again, only then should it be brought to light in the church, and that’s only in order to receive a greater help, not to humiliate.
I’ve seen those who have been told the loving truth to be accused of being condemning or pushy. We have been told that ourselves. It’s how we all react. So maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to judge a church because someone was offended. Maybe they’re doing something right. Either they revealed a false Christ, a false Gospel, (which would be a good reason to leave), or they were preaching the truth. Either way, pointing fingers, judging, and tearing down churches who have hurt us makes us no different than the church itself. Both those who have been hurt, and those who are hurting others for whatever reason, should be shown the love of Christ.
So who should we aim to please? If it’s God, then there will be times when those whom you speak the truth to will call you arrogant and insensitive. But if what the Bible says is true, isn’t that a good thing, to be persecuted for Christ’s sake?
If people don’t want to hang us on a cross, and we don’t want to be there, maybe we’re doing something wrong.