Saturday, August 26, 2017

Disagreement, Division, and Trusting God

We live in a divided country.  We are divided by our politics, by our beliefs, by our race, by our sexuality, by generation, by social class - by just about anything you can name.  And in these times, division means we must hate those who disagree with us, right?  It means we must tear down the character and reputation of whole people groups if they are "on the other side," right?  We should resort to ad hominem attacks, legal attacks, and if that doesn't do it, physical attacks to defend our views, right?

At least we, as Christians, don't do such things...  


Christians, where is our faith?

The Apostle Peter, after instructing us to suffer for doing good in a world that will confuse good with evil (welcome to the 21st century) points us to our Lord:

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:21–23 ESV)

He tells us that Jesus, Whose good was called evil and Who suffered greatly for it, didn't fight back.  He didn't revile when He was reviled.  He didn't threaten when He was threatened.  Instead, He entrusted Himself to the Father, because He knew that He would judge rightly.  In other words, He endured the threats, the hate, and the suffering of this world, because He trusted in a just Judge.  

To this we have been called.

When we disagree with the world (and we do), we will be attacked.  We will be threatened.  We will suffer.  Good.  Count it a blessing.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11–12 ESV)

And then be what God called you to be.  Do not let the world, Satan, and the sinful tendencies in your own heart take that blessing from you.  Do not lower Jesus to the standards of the world - remember that it isn't you the world hates, but Jesus!  

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. (John 15:18–21 ESV)

And how we treat them is how they will see Jesus treating them.  Brothers and sisters, we have an unprecedented opportunity to shine the light of the Gospel into the darkness of our world and of our current divided country.  But we must not listen to the spirit of the age that says tolerance means agreement, that disagreement means hate, and that those "on the other side" of any issue should receive vitriol in return for theirs.

Instead, listen to the Spirit of Truth, and of our Lord, Jesus Christ:

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? (Matthew 5:38–47 ESV)

Listen, I am not telling you which side of any given disagreement to be on.  Let Scripture and the Holy Spirit be your guide.  I am simply reminding us what Scripture says about how we are to disagree in our current cultural climate, as electrified and divisive as it is.  Let your good be thought of as evil, and suffer for it - suffer the hate, the personal attacks, and suffer because of all of the lies of the enemy that the world has accepted as true - and count it as a blessing.

Let's have the faith to follow Jesus, and entrust ourselves to Him that judges rightly.