I posted something recently on social media. I took it down because someone I knew was offended by it. I took it down because I love God and I love these folks who were offended.
I preached a couple of sermons at church last year. Someone was offended by the messages. I stand by those messages and will not back down because I love God and I love these folks who were offended.
What’s the difference?
In the first case it was a post that identified a certain ideology and worldview and portrayed it in an unflattering, generalizing way. My friends who objected to the article felt that they and their views were treated unfairly. I tried to defend my position, but I now realize that I was merely reinforcing this unfair generalization. My friends and I have full agreement on several issues. We also disagree on others. Nevertheless, our love for God and one another keeps us as friends who are far more willing to publicly fight for our common interests than openly war about differences. Therefore, I deleted the post.
In the second case, one message was on a Bible-based view of marriage and sexuality while the second was a Bible-based definition and defence of life from conception to natural death. After the second message a printed article was placed into my church mail slot with the title, “American Pastors are too Political in the Pulpit.” There were also some rumours of some people being “very offended”. As of this blog’s publishing, no one has stepped forward to say they gave me the article, nor has anyone discussed any issues with me.
I stand by those messages because of the following reasons:
1) They are based on the Bible, not personal preferences.
2) These issues are “political” only because those with a particular ideology have chosen to make them political. Adherents on both sides of these views have shamelessly used the media, courts and elected government bodies to advance their ideologies in a hateful, spiteful, clearly un-Christlike manner.
3) The messages call for a love of God AND a love of all people and all human lives. There was open condemnation in these messages of verbal and physical violence against those with differing views. There was a clear, Bible-based call for true followers of Jesus to actively and lovingly support those who are in difficult circumstances and confusion, no matter the outcome.
Therefore, I will never back down from these messages. I love God and people too much.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned:
1) As teachers of the Bible and leaders in the church we are to be extra careful in our dealings with all people.
2) Bible teachers and church leaders represent Christ AND their local congregations. We must maintain the interests of God and our church families far above our own interests. We must speak to these issues based on the Bible, the Holy Spirit’s guidance and the correct use of science and history.
3) Based on the first two facts, I must exercise Godly wisdom in what I publicly post and say. When it is truly Biblical, loving and beneficial, I will say it and stand by it. If people are offended by the Truth, that’s on them. If they are offended by my obnoxious, selfish expressions, that’s on me.
4) Anonymous letters and postings are inappropriate and insulting. I am fully willing to publicly answer for what I say. I have a personal rule: If I am at a business and receive poor service, I tell them personally. When I receive great service, I tell them personally AND I publish it all over social media. If you don’t like what I say, tell me personally yourself.
5) All of the lessons I have learned apply to every follower of Christ. Just because you are not a “pastor”, “teacher” or “leader” does not exclude you from love and wisdom. You ARE a disciple of Jesus. You DO represent Jesus Christ, the Bible and your local church family.
In the end, this is all about God’s glory. Not mine.
Mark 12:28-34 (NIV2011)
28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”
32“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.