Opinions on faith and life

Between A Rock and a Hard Place

2007-05-19

There goes another one. Unbeliever enters Christian board to proselytize, the people defend themselves, then the attacker expresses shock and horror at such “hatred” and scurries back to Unbelieverland to have his wounds nursed. The Christians roll out the red carpet and invite him back, expressing sorrow for having been so cruel.

Why does it happen, over and over? Because Christians try too hard to be liked. We are so paranoid about being seen in a poor light, so eager to put on a good show, that we’ll not only fail to defend the Truth but invite the wolves in for dinner (never stopping to think that we are the main course!). The predictable result is slow death by metamorphosis. The once “salty” community turns into the very thing it was supposed to stand against.

When an aggressive unbeliever is allowed to feel welcome among those who should have “the aroma of God” (2 Cor. 2:16), gangrene sets in. Others follow and soon the board is overrun, having lost its Christian flavor and turned into yet another “host” for the forces of evil. There is reaching out to the lost, and then there is spiritual suicide.

The solution is simple, but first we have to see the problem. We have to look beyond the seeming dilemma between opposing falsehood and being always ready to give the gospel to those who ask. As it is, we feel caught between deadly compromise and pushing away a potential convert. But this is a false dilemma; there is another choice. We have both the right and the responsibility to demand to know the intentions of anyone who wants to be among us. It doesn’t take long to see whether someone is sincere in wanting to know more about being a Christian, or whether they only want to destroy. And make no mistake: there is no middle ground. No unbeliever joins a Christian board for the social contacts.

We’ve got to get over this guilt trip about turning hostile unbelievers away. Did John the Baptist welcome the Pharisees with open arms when they came to be baptized? Did Jesus make friends with those who kept trying to trap him? Did Paul sit down to eat with the legalizers? There is a time to welcome and a time to repel, and we must learn when to do what. And that’s why the Body of Christ needs all its parts. Each one of us has a job to do, and if we allow each other do to them, the group of us can function as intended. But when the members of this Body insist that we all must be a hand or a leg, the Body is crippled. What I mean by this is that some of us are made for nurturing, and others for defense. Some see danger from far away, while others care for the wounded. So when a wolf comes to the gate, let’s allow the defenders to do their jobs.

To nurture the enemy is to betray the One we serve. And yes, we have enemies. Not everyone is a budding convert. Not everyone wants to know the Truth. Not everyone sincerely seeks salvation. The problem is in identifying an enemy before it’s too late. And that’s why the Spirit gives some to be “shepherds” (Eph. 4). As I’ve said before, a good shepherd knows sheep from wolves and will know which one to beat and which one to protect. Those who are not shepherds must not hinder them in their work.

We need Christian message boards, places where the Truth can be easily found and not buried under an avalanche of conflicting messages. Let’s keep them pure and exercise discernment in how we deal with prospective members who are not believers. This is no game, it’s a war (Eph. 6:12), and there are guards on the walls for a very good reason. Let’s stop throwing stones at them when they sound the alarm.