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I fear that we are seeing the emergence of Christian attacking other Christians viciously.  Since I preach to the godless, I know what it is like to be attacked.  Now, more and more, I am seeing Christians participating in the same type of attacks against other believers.   They commonly mention that they are treating others as Jesus did, especially in regard to the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders.   

I, personally, came under attacks like this recently.   I wrote the following in response.  Was it a good response?  Why are people doing this and what should we say/do?

 

This is what I said:

I would like to bring to your attention that perhaps using Jesus and the Pharisees as examples of how to deal with ‘religious Christian leaders’ may not be appropriate. 

You may be equating things this way, ‘the Jews were the religious leaders and Jesus attacked them, we are simply attacking religious leaders as Jesus did.’   Let’s consider this… Perhaps you think that Jesus came to establish a new ‘religion’ ~ Christianity.    I would challenge that thinking…  He did not.   Jesus came to establish relationships.   He first purchased reconciliation for us with his own blood.   Then, Jesus reconciled us to God.   He gives us many things to do; one of our primary roles is the ministry of reconciliation: establishing godly relationships ~ bringing people to God, and then something new happens, we become the family of God. 

Perhaps the confusion is this:  Those Jews Jesus called out were related to him.   They were all Jews.   Perhaps some of you are confusing the relationship Jesus had to the Jews – thinking that Jesus was somehow establishing how to treat people who, in God, we are related to.  Jesus was related to the Jews by blood he was related to those who were children of Abraham, by the flesh.  However, we learn from Galatians 4 that those who are related by flesh are not necessarily the promised children of God.   And, Jesus was clear, many of the Jews, to whom he was related to by the flesh, were sons of the enemy.   

The relationship of those who are ‘of the spirit’ is this:  we are children of God.  We are members of Christ, his body.   We are part of the same family.  A Father, including our heavenly Father, expects his children to treat one another in certain ways.   Do you expect your children to treat each other in certain ways? 

I have appealed to you earlier in this regard.   God establishes expectations on how he expects us to treat each other.   He is always at work reconciling people to him and each other.   We ought to be careful to not fall into the role of the accuser.   We don’t want to experience this, the fate of the other accuser:  Rev. 12:10b “For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down”.   Neither do we want to fall into the role of those who set up divisions:  Rom. 16:17 “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. Jude 19 “19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.”

It appears that one of your focuses is when brothers and sisters sin.  Scripture abounds with instructions for when a brother is caught in a trespass…

2 Peter 2: 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

We always need to check our approach and our fruit.   Is our approach gentle?  Does our approach lead to foolish and stupid arguments?

Galations 6 “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ..”

Again, is our approach gentle?

You are free to choose to exercise your ministry however you wish.  I appeal to you to consider the wisdom shared with us by our brother, Paul regarding your freedom in Christ.  Galatians 5…  “13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

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The discussion where I was attacked was a little surreal to me.   It is long, but if you want to see it, I pasted it into a discussion here on KingdomInsight.   The person who I was talking with was none too happy with me so I don't know he will leave up the discussion.  

http://kingdominsight.ning.com/group/thegodless/forum/topics/i-have...

Or, if you want to see it on Facebook - here you go:

https://www.facebook.com/biblebound/posts/2992670034000?comment_id=...

I think your response was spot on, especially the Romans 16 reference.

That being said, some folks while new creations in Christ carry a ton of baggage which when triggered, they revert to the old Adam pretty fast. In a similar vein, there are some for whom specific events, behaviors, or topics can be like a siren sound calling them away from Christ. It might well be that some folks have baggage, triggers or susceptibilities to this Harlem shift, shake or whatever thing, and its mere mention will set them off. In a lot of ways, I think there are some parallels with the eating of meat sacrificed to idols. Responding in love to fellow Christians who are just shy of foaming at the mouth when triggered is a tricky deal. I again say, you did quite well in your response. Its something to be shared so we can all learn from one another.

Yikes... well that whole discussion didn't go very well.

Just a couple of outside observations:

Britt REALLY doesn't like the Harlem Shake. I didn't see the video in question so I don't know whether I agree with him about that particular video or not. Odds are, he had some good reasons.

Juanita had a legitimate concern with how Britt rebuked the Christians who were doing it and then... BANG it was on Donkey Kong! Then... people jumped in from all sides with different perspectives and started throwing hand grenades. There was even a "my denomination is better than your denomination" statement thrown in there for good measure. Sheesh!

And there must have been a post in there somewhere by John McGlone that was deleted. Reading the context of Juanita's response, the deleted post by John McGlone must have been a BIG hand grenade.

So... what to do in that situation? I'm not sure if there is a right answer. Both sides were arguing from scripture.

But here are my thoughts:

Juanita used tons of good scripture about gentleness and respect. And she was right.

Britt used the scriptural examples of Jesus calling out the Pharisees. And he was right too.

Let's take a look at those examples. This is how I see them:

Jesus got righteously angry and called people out for their sin and Jesus' anger was displayed in both His words and deeds.  Jesus called the pharisees white-washed tombs. Jesus went even farther than that in John 8 when He told the pharisees that their father was not God but actually the Devil. That was certainly a hand grenade of the highest order as Jesus was questioning their very righteousness and that was really important to them.

And there was another time that Jesus not only exchanged verbal barbs and called out the pharisees' sin but Jesus actually ridiculed them with biting sarcasm: "You tithe out of your spice rack!"

Another incredible time when Jesus argued with the priests/pharisees and called out their sin was when he rescued the woman caught in adultery from stoning and Jesus said "Let he is without sin cast the first stone" and then Jesus bent down and wrote something in the dirt. Gosh! I wish I knew what it was that Jesus wrote in the dirt. It must have been the most biting and cutting and un-arguable truth that went right to the heart of very hardened of hearts. 

And then Jesus told the woman, "Go and sin no more." That's important. Jesus wasn't condoning her sin, he was displaying His unmerited favor, love and grace upon a sinner... a sinner just like me. Praise God for the love of God who loved me so that I may love Him!

And of course, Jesus became so angry when He went to the temple at Jerusalem that, with premeditation, he made a whip and chased and beat the moneychangers out of the temple.

Another example of righteous anger and the calling out of sin was when John the Baptist, like Jesus after him, called the delegation of pharisees/priests/scribes from Jerusalem a brood of vipers.

Jesus called John the Baptist the greatest man who ever lived. Jesus doesn't lie. Jesus is God.

Now... what is it that both Jesus, the Son of God, and the greatest man who ever lived, John the Baptist, got the angriest about? What sin did they call out harshly? Self-righteousness and hypocrisy and the man-made and warped legalism of self-righteous religious people who are sinners but just don't realize it.

The Law as given by God was and remains perfect. But every time men get their hands on anything, we screw it up royally. Just like what the priests/scribes/pharisees did to the Law. The Law of God was given to us so that we would know we aren't perfect and know that we need Jesus. It did the opposite in the Pharisees' case because they used the law to promote their personal self-righteousness and personal perfection. We all know that the majority of those religious people believed they did not need Jesus because they were "perfect." They believed in their own righteousness so much that they murdered Jesus.

So, let me say it again... Jesus gets the angriest when we become self-righteous, hypocrites. He calls out that sin harshly. Jesus knows the hearts of men. We do not.

So...if I said what Britt said about knowing that others were not saved, I can't help but wonder and be terrified by what Jesus might write in the sand about me ...  

We, as Christians, ARE allowed to judge the actions of both sinners and fellow believers to point out sin. But before I mention the speck in somebody's else's eye, I better check for the 2x4' in my own.

My hunch is that neither side in the discussion was going to change their mind during the argument (especially in front of everybody who was tossing logs on the fire of that argument). BUT... with as much scripture that was thrown in, my hope is that the scripture would not return void and would cut to people's hearts. Maybe not in the middle of the grenade throwing, but later that night or evening or a month from now or even years from now one of those verses would come to mind and somebody would repent of their own sin and learn from God's Word.

My metaphor of hand grenades and throwing logs on the fire of that argument was a good one. But let me mix my metaphors... maybe those weren't logs or hand grenades. Maybe it was "red meat" thrown to Christians who were "biting and devouring" one another in a public forum when, at some point (and I think Juanita attempted this) that whole conversation probably should have taken place by IM or even in person.

And there too is a time, just like when Paul and Barnabas left one another, that Christians are just going to have to agree to disagree. But the wonderful thing about the Paul and Barnabas story is that they were reconciled at a later date. And how did that happen? Through the humility of very strong and proud people who loved Jesus more than their own personal desire to be seen as the winner of an argument. 

It may seem like I am beating up on Britt and his position. I actually agree with him on some stuff. Scripture tells us that we need to shine the light on the darkness so that sin will be brought out into the open. (Eph 5:13)

But when we are shining our lights, lets not point that light right in someones eyes. It can blind them. Shine your light on the sin first. Ask yourself this question: Are you pointing out the sin to condemn the sinner or are you pointing out the sin to do your part and bring the sinner to repentance and relationship with Jesus Christ?

I'm not Jesus. Not even close. And I'm not John the Baptist. Not even close. But their lives are  what I should model my life after. But I need to remember that the wrath of man is not righteousness like the wrath of God. I can be angry and have lots of case to be angry, but I am not allowed to sin in my anger. Leave the wrath to God. He's the only one who is any good at it. (He's perfect at it actually).

And while we should not concern ourselves with vengeance we should concern ourselves with discipline and reconciliation. And if the discipline and reconciliation doesn't work, well... then the people who refuse to listen and repent get treated like the tax man (Matthew 18:17). 

And above all, brothers and sisters, with all the light you are shining, don't get in a flashlight war.

In the end, that argument on the forum wasn't even about the same thing. Britt was arguing against the Harlem Shake and kept bringing the whole thing back to whether Juanita condoned the Harlem Shake. He was baiting her. Juanita was arguing against the way Britt rebuked the people who did the Harlem Shake. But that just wasn't getting through him.

In the heat of the moment, we, as Christians, need to pause and reflect to see if we are even connecting with one another in what we are saying.  "Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger" (James 1:19). We as Christians can be real quick to remember the "slow to speak" part and the "slow to anger" parts but too often we forget the "quick to hear" part.

One of the greatest pieces of advice that I have ever heard when dealing with explosive situations is to set aside "how" a person says something, ignore the emotional outburst, and "listen" to what they are really trying to communicate. That may sound like a piece of junk-food Christianity or pop-culture, but I think that it is exactly what the Bible means when it tells us to be patient and long-suffering with one another.

Once you figure out what someone is communicating, then you can move forward without lobbing more emotional hand grenades of your own. Remember, you can't control anybody else. The only person you have any power over is yourself.

I'll leave you with this, one of the very same verses Juanita cited. And I think that in regards to the argument that happened on the forum, it is the most appropriate.

"Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted." (Galatians 6:1)

And I say this in sincere truth, I don't think Britt and I would ever be best of friends, but without even meeting him, I love him as a Christian brother and commend his zeal. I do know Juanita personally, and she and I have had our own theological differences and discussions, but I love her too, as a Christian sister.

For what they are, those are my thoughts.

joe

I just went back and re-read the original argument on the forum... and while I still stay true to my claim that I love Britt as a Christian brother... after re-reading some of the things he said ... that's is getting a little tougher to do. And while I still do commend Britt's zeal I think he needs to temper that with some soul searching of his own. We should all judge ourselves lest we be judged.

joe

Wow, well I don't know what to make of it, but I just discovered that the lyrics of the Harlem Shake song translate to "With the terrorists". Lovely. (sarcasm implied)

     According to the Urban Dictionary, the Harlem Shake, is a dance mimicking crippled peoples convulsions after they were shot by actual gangbangers.  Maybe that was not the best choice for a video, but there is a civil way to correct someone, that would have given you the benefit of the doubt, that you were probably not aware of that.


Ron, 

Thanks a lot!  I really appreciate your thoughts!  Very encouraging. :-)


Ron Amundson said:

I think your response was spot on, especially the Romans 16 reference.

Joe 

Great thoughts!  I really appreciate you taking the time to put them down.  I think this conversation is an important one,   If it was an isolated event, that would be one thing, but this is becoming a pattern of communication that Christians are using with and against other believers.

Joe Wagner said:

I just went back and re-read the original argument on the forum... and while I still stay true to my claim that I love Britt as a Christian brother.....

I posted a couple more posts from the discussion; if you’d like to check them, go to FB or you can see the last couple Here

 

http://kingdominsight.ning.com/group/thegodless/forum/topics/i-have...

Steve,

You are so right, disagree civilly!  Thanks for commenting!

Steve Belttari said:

     According to the Urban Dictionary, the Harlem Shake, is a dance mimicking crippled peoples convulsions after they were shot by actual gangbangers.  Maybe that was not the best choice for a video, but there is a civil way to correct someone, that would have given you the benefit of the doubt, that you were probably not aware of that.

As a pastor and Christian, one of my biggest irritations is people who call themselves Christians who lash out with knee jerk, negative reactions. That irritation led me to write the epic response I posted earlier. As a pastor I am long-winded by nature :) When I get wound up I just keep going and going and going... 

On reflection, Juanita, I think you and I are really coming at this from the same angle. I reread your above post this morning and I really think we are in one accord about this.

I am not sure that "attack" is the best word to use for what Jesus did to the pharisees. I think "righteous indignation" and "just response to sin" may be a better term to apply to Jesus' actions. That all may be semantics... but know that I am agreeing with you and your above post.

I don't think we have the same freedom to act in our emotions that Jesus did. His wrath is righteous, ours most often is not. Jesus was emotionally and spiritually pure and without sin. We aren't. Jesus knew the hearts of men. We do not. Jesus is the judge of men's hearts. We aren't.

We can shed light on the sin and actions of a person who is sinning, but I really don't think we dare make the bold and uncaring statements that Britt did. He claimed to know the state of your eternal soul and essentially damned you. That is very pharasaic and to be completely honest, if anyone was influenced by the enemy, I think it was him.

So with all that being said, I had a hard time with him.  I think he was really overstepping his bounds. And to be honest, I think he was acting like the pharisees that Jesus got angry with. Acting, as he did, like those Pharisees, is only going to cause division.

And this is for everybody still hung up on the Harlem Shake thing... meh. I guess that if you are one of those Christians who is against dancing, the Harlem Shake is very offensive. So be it. You can believe that way if you want to. I did check out some Youtube vids of the dance and a number of them were pretty inappropriate. Some were not.

The Harlem Shake has moved beyond just a "dance" and has become an internet meme. If we as believers can use elements of culture to relate to the unsaved, I think we should take every opportunity to reach a lost generation. Jesus told stories about farmers and fishermen and nature and servants and animals and kings to people who could understand those things. They got what He was talking about because they could understand what He was saying because He used language they could relate too. Maybe using the Harlem Shake is like the same thing...  

I think that a church that uses the Harlem Shake in an appropriate way will reach more people than by screaming at those same people from the curb and telling them they are all going to hell.

joe

I agree, I never thought about the culture-related parables in the Bible. I think it's great when Christians take something that glorifies evil and turn it around to glorify God. The Harlem Shake being used in a church setting is one such example. I've also seen Christians on YouTube singing rap songs that originally had profane lyrics and replacing them with lyrics that give praise to God instead. I imagine the devil shaking his head in disbelief when his plans of spreading evil are replaced with ones that give glory to God :)

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