“Defend the Bible? I would as soon defend a lion! Unchain it and it will defend itself.” –C.H. Spurgeon
The development of the social media age has not improved balanced forms of public discourse. Sadly this statement might seem like a bit of an understatement when we see the vitriol and hate spewed online. What we currently see in online platforms makes sense to me, anonymity and distance create a good recipe for false courage.
But surely this is not something that should be going on amongst Christians (Matt 20:26), let alone pastors and ministry leaders? Winning an argument online while losing your brother seems seriously off to me.
I have found myself increasingly disappointed and dismayed for those pastors who fill their hours engaging in rock-throwing like this while displaying no interest in resolving their disagreements face-to-face. Have you ever experienced this in your life? Have you ever been guilty of this?
Honestly, I have been divisive and foolish like this. Early in my walk with the Lord, I was one to proclaim judgment over pastors and ministries that didn’t preach my version of Christianity, and I was even verbally unsupportive of leadership in a church I attended. But this is not what God wants for us.
Being Right Vs. Being Godly
The living God is grieved when our attacks and slander bring disunity to the body of Christ. There is a better way to spend our time than arguing with other Christians over the Internet. King David declares in Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” The reverse is true as well: How bad and unpleasant it is when brothers have disunity! To be clear I’m not talking about being silent about heresy, far from it. But most of what is being argued about online isn’t heresy, it’s preference.
You Might Be Missing Something
Consider this: Your current theological position may not be the one you die holding. Look back at your walk with the Lord. Are there positions you once held that you no longer believe to be the truth? Maybe you have not yet arrived at your final destination, and the Lord may be continuing to shape and mold you. Be careful in making it seem that if someone holds a different position on a secondary issue then they are outside of the faith.
Rather than contending for disunity over secondary topics, you could begin to contend for unity on the essentials of our faith—the things that are of “first importance…that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3–4). Your time and energy would be better spent contending for the proclamation of the gospel or encouraging brothers and sisters to make much of Jesus.
Your Witness Is More Important
Pastor/Ministry leader, you are being watched. Your church and the outside world sees how you engage with, disagree with, and relate to your brothers and sisters within the Church and with those outside the Church. Paul gives us good counsel: “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:5–6).
Our speech should reek of grace and be seasoned with salt. When discussing secondary issues with other Christians, go out of your way to show respect and love for others. If you find that you cannot do that, please do not hit Enter and post your comment.
Let the Scriptures speak for themselves: “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:12–13).
As I mentioned, I have been guilty of rock-throwing and criticizing from a distance. Gossip like this is something all of us can slip into, even if only in private conversation. It’s a lesson we all need to learn and an area where many of us need to repent. As you read this, I pray that you would ask God to show you where he is calling you to repent and grow in maturity to represent Jesus well to all.
Might God work in our hearts.