I promised in the opening paragraphs of my recent Blog Post “real men ain’t wimps” that I would clarify my comments in more detail over the next few months. What I’ve therefore decided to do is work through each point one by one. First up is the whole issue of what we might call “friendly fire.”
In all honesty I’m pretty sick and tired of seeing followers of Jesus smacking each other around on twitter, Facebook and via blogs. To those outside the church we must look pretty weak and pathetic. Note that I’m not saying we can’t debate and argue an issue. This is more about the very personally derogatory posts that I see. Sometimes we need to remember that we are destined to spend eternity together!
Many verses from the bible spring to mind in this instance and they are so numerous I won’t list them all but they range from verses about cherishing each other, living in peace, resolving disputes privately, not touching the Lords anointed and many, many more. Perhaps though, in this instance Rom 12:6-20 springs to mind. Have a read of it now. As I read this, I feel that a Kingdom culture is one that is positive, forward facing, believes the best and gives the benefit of the doubt.
So here are some bullet points on this issue;
1) I and many others have found it to be true that we have only ever been opposed in ministry by other believers. Sad but true. We have become very good at the precise and accurate targeting of deliberate friendly fire. We talk about the enemy opposing ministry and the apathy in our culture towards the gospel but the reality is this; As an evangelist I have found those apparently outside the Kingdom of God to be hugely interested in our message and willing to engage in quite interesting debate and conversation. In the last few months the ministry I lead has been subjected to some interesting “attacks”. Even down to being called a cult and of the devil! This has only come from my brothers and sisters in Christ.
My view is this. If you have nothing positive to say (critical and positive feedback because you want the best is different) then don’t open your mouth. (1 thess 5:11) In my opinion, followers of Jesus are characterised by optimistic hope, not pessimistic cynicism and complaint.
2) If you are so aggrieved that you have something to say and feel personally offended. Speak to the person privately, ideally face to face. (Matt 18). If that person is not easily accessed then write to them. Washing dirty laundry on twitter or Facebook smacks of low character and sub kingdom behaviour. I have been truly dismayed at the number of leading figures who use their platform to villify and practically slander others. To me it doesn’t compute. It speaks of insecurity, anger and jealousy. Have nothing to do with it.
3) Leaders of ministries are worthy of double honour. 1Tim 5:18-19. Somewhere, somehow we lost a culture of honour for leadership. Does it mean they cannot be corrected? Of course not. However there is a way and a means to do so. You will not find me naming and shaming on the internet. I will however speak or engage privately with those I have issue with. I have friends who have taken me aside in the past and on occasion put pen to paper. The context of love and concern in which they wrote touched my heart and I credit such action as keeping me on the narrow path! Im grateful this was done privately.
4) Is there a time for ever correcting publicly? Of course there is. In the case of heresy, false teaching and dangerous activity. I personally would only do this however after seeking to resolve privately. Protecting the church and believers would on occasion call for radical action.
5) Beware factions and cult like followings! Paul the Apostle seems to lose his rag over this one. Look at 1Cor1:10-17. The appeal is to live in harmony. the enemy of this a teacher or three who has some clever insight that no one else has noticed, therefore gaining a following! (Paul says he didn’t use clever speech in case the cross loses its power…perhaps indicating thats what others may have been doing?) The answer is to keep the focus on Jesus and his message and work. As a teacher/evangelist, my job is to point beyond myself to Jesus. If the pointing is to a particular clever message or ministry then trouble normally follows. (Although you may gain a big following in human terms).
6) On a practical note, if you are doing something new and fresh, expect some flack. It goes with the territory.
7) Don’t take yourself too seriously but take your mission and the gospel very seriously. That way you’ll get through the tough times and inevitable criticism.
More to follow on this blog subject in due course.
Grace to you