I’m reposting this article from October 2013 because I needed to be reminded of these points.
Don’t make waves. Don’t ruffle anyone’s feathers. Don’t rock the boat. Those were phrases I grew up hearing that basically said, don’t say what you want to say because you’ll upset someone.
Underneath the admonition is the kind intention to spare someone’s feelings. You don’t want someone to get upset or feel uncomfortable or confused or irate or off kilter. You want to keep people happy.
Sure, it’s a good sentiment if it isn’t taken too far. But the problem is, our western culture is, in fact, taking the concept too far. The result is, we no longer speak the truth.
Christians have fallen into this same pit. We sometimes don’t speak the truth because we don’t want to make others uncomfortable, and sometimes we hold our tongues because we don’t want to suffer the outrage from others if we say what we believe.
I understand this latter position. I had an encounter last week on another blog that put me under verbal attack. I was accused of being of questionable intelligence, falsely pious, cruel, dishonest, abusive, creating intentional harm, being snide, having an attitude that was “as Christ-like as a festering pile of donkey scat,” and more. Above all, some said people like me were the reason they didn’t want to be known as Christians.
So do I relish tangling with people who I know might well unleash such a diatribe again? Not so much. It’s easier to keep quiet, to say, I’ve been in the verbal battles in the past and I don’t need more.
I used to think such rancorous exchanges could be avoided by treating others with respect. Except, some people think you don’t respect them unless you agree with them. Some people read evil intent behind every word.
At other times I’ve had people assume they know my position on a matter simply because I’ve stated a view that’s similar to someone else on their blacklist. In this last foray, I was accused regarding my opening comment of trying to prevent others from speaking.
I did say there are voices intent to drown out the message of God’s hope and help with accusations against the true Church. This statement, I was told, constituted me telling those against abuse within the church to stop talking.
What we never got to was this: the true Church doesn’t condone abuse. Does abuse exist within the ranks of those involved in Bible-believing churches? Sadly, I’m certain it does. However, writing off all evangelical churches and all evangelicals as refusing to ask questions, to look at the truth, and to accept those who are digging behind the scenes is . . . myopic. Or filled with hubris.
How can someone extrapolate from their own experience and draw conclusions about all other evangelicals and evangelical churches of whatever denomination? As I see it, someone who reaches such a conclusion might have an unhealthy idea about himself.
So ought Christians to stand by and let people slandering the true Church and maligning God’s name do so in order to avoid confrontation?
I don’t think so.
I know people have said–I think quoting C. S. Lewis–you don’t have to defend the Bible. That’s like defending a caged lion. In reality, all you have to do is let him out and he’ll defend himself.
But when it comes to the Church–well, believers are the Church, so it seems we ought to defend Christ’s bride.
In the end, the best defense is a good offense (not a quote from Scripture, but I’m sure the principle is in there somewhere 😉 ). Peter says it’s our good deeds that will win over unbelievers, though some will only get it “in the day of visitation,” which I think means Christ’s return, or the day of judgment–in other words, not necessarily in the immediate future.
I have no doubt that good deeds speak volumes. I also know Paul said we are to speak the truth in love. It’s not loving to let someone live believing a lie. It’s also not loving to call people vile names.
So Christians, I believe, need to have a determination to speak the truth and not go along to get along, and yet to do so in a way that is different from the way non-believers engage those with whom they disagree.
Speaking the truth articulately without name calling, insinuations, snark, dismissive or condescending comments ought to mark Christians. And in the internet age, speaking clearly without rancor might be the greatest witness we can offer.