09 August 2012

Gentle Controversy

Controversy is a sea that we are always treading in. For some it’s worse than others, but everyone is constantly immersed in controversy, political, social, or religions controversy. All we can do is deal with it, or alternatively resign ourselves to a life as a hermit. As a Christian, I look at the controversy from a Biblical standpoint with the aim of understanding the proper way to handle the controversy.

There seems to be two general ways of coping with controversy, either not caring and staying as oblivious and un-opinionated as possible or to go overboard and to personally seek out and to allow the controversies to consume a large part of time and focus. Most people are not in either category entirely, those are extremes. However, both mindsets are wrong in a Biblical sense—which I hold is the only way that should even be considered a viable option--even for non-Christians, the advice the Bible gives is not going to hurt you. Controversy should never take center-stage in our lives. Our focus ought always to be to Love God with everything we have. Our relationship with God is paramount to everything else. However, as I said earlier, we still encounter controversy, and God has not left us uninformed on how He expects us to behave when faced with controversy.

In the Second letter of Timothy, there are some very pertinent passages explaining the way that God desires us to handle controversial discussions.

2Ti 2:23  "Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.
2Ti 2:24  And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
2Ti 2:25  correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
2Ti 2:26  and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

Does this resonate with you at all? Have you ever found yourself wrapped up in a “foolish, ignorant controversy?” I know I have. I should have nothing to do with that. It should be disgusting to me.
But why, why is it wrong to get overly involved in that type of controversy? It says in verse 26, it’s to help our opponent. That’s right, it’s God’s will to try to help our opponent. God is on our side, and that means that He expects us to love our opponents—enemies.

This does not mean that we are to be weak and allow our opponents to say and do whatever they want. It does say to “correct” our opponents--but in a “gentle” way. Do you see the message here? God does not want us to be rude and mean and petty in our quarrels, but he does not say to avoid quarrels either. Rather, when you find yourself in a situation that requires you to correct someone else who is wrong about God, do it in a kind and gentle way so that they may escape from the devil’s snares.

It sounds so very simple, but trying to put this knowledge into a mode of heart that guides us is more complicated than cooking your average microwave dinner. It takes extensive focus and determination to go beyond your view of things and to hold fast to God's view when confronted and offended. It is possible though, and it is right and worth the effort. God will pay you back for your devotion to Him, and people will pay you back by seeing the true desire and love that you have for them and for God. If that is what people see when they see you, and if that is what people hear when they talk to you, then you will have given the best argument for your perspective.


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