Modeling Christ In Conflict (And Other Neglected Essentials)

IMG_4883Everyone has an opinion. All you have to do is log on to Twitter and you’ll see vicious arguments on everything from Critical Race Theory to pineapple on pizza. (Okay, the pineapple on pizza debate is all in good fun, but it does get somewhat passionate at times.) It’s remarkably easy to get stuck in the quagmire of bickering and nastiness.

Those who stand against doctrinal error and/or ungodly practices become lightning rods on Twitter. As an original signer of the infamous letter to Beth Moore, I can testify that people don’t like it when you tip their sacred cows. Sometimes, of course, the arguments merely expose the irrationality of the critics — after a while you have to walk away because they’re screaming too loudly to listen to your perspective. In such circumstances, the advice of Jesus must prevail:

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. ~~Matthew 7:6 (ESV)

But I believe this course of action should be a last resort. As we see in the four gospels, Jesus patiently argued with the Pharisees and Sadducees for quite some time. He knew He wouldn’t persuade them of their rebellion against God, but He demonstrated that they rightly deserved judgment.

The Holy Spirit, through the words of the apostle Paul, gives us insight into how to engage our opponents in a Christlike manner:

22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. ~~2 Timothy 3:22-26 (ESV)

Our opponents may be ugly towards us (especially on social media where there’s a certain degree of anonymity), but the Lord commands us to respond kindly. Kindness doesn’t require us to compromise the truth,  but it indeed demands that we argue fairly and with respect. These people are just that — real human beings whose feelings get hurt just as easily as ours do.

Often,  we can’t discern whether or not their questions are sincere. At least not immediately. Therefore, it’s imperative that we answer straightforwardly and respectfully, giving them the benefit of the doubt in hopes that the Lord will lead them to repent of error so that they will come to truth.

Twitter fights indeed can resemble 7th grade food fights. As Christians, however, we must rise above such childish behavior, treating people with dignity. Yes, we still must stand firmly on the Word of God, but we must also obey His commands to love and respect those who oppose us.

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