Push Through The Pain
When I gave birth the first time, I had no epidural. I felt everything. And my labor was 31 hours. (I was 37, fer literally cryin’ out loud!) But the nurse told me to do the most unintuitive thing: “push through the pain”; that is, the time to push is when it hurts the most. Tough thing to make yourself do, over and over.
In society, likewise, there are times when in order to help someone we have to let them fail, to let them feel the pain, to shock them into at least listening or facing a problem. As a mother I know how much I want to pamper and protect my children and keep them from either physical or emotional pain. But as they grow up I have to let them take risks, or they will forever be dependent upon others to protect them.
This all leads up to a problem I’ve mentioned before but that keeps arising among Christians. They won’t let people fall, they pamper them forever, and above all, they snarl at anyone who would disagree with them. Every time someone criticizes a teacher or leader who is doing harm to the Body of Christ in one way or another, they are always lectured about “judge not” and “love” and “be gentle”, etc.
Certainly there is a time for pampering and healing. But just as certainly there is a time for harsh reality and opposition. Even hospitals sometimes need police officers to protect the weak or vulnerable, though said officers would not be expected to make bedside calls. Yet many Christians do in fact expect the “guardians”-- a valid spiritual gift like any other-- to be nurses. They naively believe that even the most vile or violent person can be loved into passivity, that they will be reasonable and respond to “a soft answer”. But real life isn’t like that.
In the movie Ben Hur, the main character is on his way to find his bitter enemy. There is a scene where he stops to rest at an oasis where a man is training horses to run in the Roman circus. Another man also arrives, on his quest to find Jesus. This man advises Ben Hur to take the route of peace rather than revenge. But after he leaves the tent, the horse owner and Ben Hur make an important statement about him: “He is a good man. But until all men are like him, we must keep our swords sharp and our intentions true.”
That is, as long as there is anyone on earth who poses a threat to others, who is not reasonable or rational and cares nothing for others, there must also be people who will stop that kind of person. To fail to recognize this is to care nothing for (i.e, not love) the weak or vulnerable. It’s no different from leaving a hospital unprotected from drug thieves and violent criminals. The Christian community that forbids forceful opposition to threats is suicidal, caring nothing for the damage done to the Body. They treat everyone, regardless of behavior or teachings, as a wounded patient, and seemingly approve (or act surprised) when this “wounded patient” wreaks havoc on real patients, doctors, and nurses.
God is patient and forgiving, but even he will vent his wrath in vengeance against the proud and evil. God will avenge those who have been victims, but he will just as surely do so by punishing the perpetrators. We must be discerning; we must know sheep from wolves and be willing to nurture the former while beating off the latter. And we must not mistake such shepherds for our enemies. This is exactly what the “never be harsh” people do: they treat guardians like wolves, and wolves like babies. They fail, as I’ve said many times, to see the irony in using harsh criticism against fellow believers who use harsh criticism.
I wish I didn’t have to keep saying this. I wish the problem would just go away. But I have to keep “pushing” and not give up. As long as fellow believers keep trying to silence and thwart any attempt to protect the Body, the lesson has to be repeated. And I will continue to name and expose false teachers, even as others try to stop me. If it were wrong to ever say something negative, then they wouldn’t say such things to me. This is what you have to remind them of; “Why are you allowed to be so negative and judgmental against me, but I’m not allowed to criticize false teachers?” I honestly would like one of those who think we must never criticize anyone claiming Christ to justify their criticism of me.