Thank you for a great post Mr. Rush. Would you mind please providing your experience / perspective on something (and anyone else that has advice for that matter)?Regarding [rather Pharisaical] detractors within one's congregation...those that are convinced of their rightness and your wrongness, and make it known, and somewhat antagonize you, proactively seeking to diminish you...what is an appropriate way to handle / respond?On the one hand, it seems rude and impersonal to simply ignore such folks. Yet, engaging them is most often fruitless, and only leads to endless controversy. And "agreeing to disagree" is rather trite, and often does not achieve the intended purpose anyway.Still, one feels the need to defend oneself at times, though must be guided by love and God's call in our own lives.While I know that adhering to God's principles will prevail, in one-on-one interactions, an appropriate response to such folks is sometimes difficult to muster. Please, some thoughts?
Dear Anonymous (Ah, that sounds so Ann Landers-ish),
Who among us doesn't find your question resonating? My experience would align more with your frustration than I would possess answers. This matter often faces any who desire to see the kingdom advance. I've succeeded occasionally and failed repeatedly in handling such people. To my own dismay, on occasion I have been found to be that person.
One of the things I noticed about Jesus is he would sometimes not answer a word. He had better things to do. At other times he would unload; remember the "Woe unto"s? A third option was he would take action anyway. My favorite is Mt. 12 where the scene was riddled with tension as he had been clearly told not to heal on the Sabbath. He looked at the withered hand, looked back at his accusers, looked back at the withered hand.....and bravely did the right thing. It was that move that motivated those trying to stop him to go away being devoted to designing a plot to kill him.
If we think we live in a less dangerous zone, we are mistaken. It is dangerous in the church to do the right thing. I would consider the following when determining when to respond:
- Weigh and re-weigh if you are responding to God's truth or personal irritation. Romans 2:1-5 warns that often what we claim as violation, we are guilty of ourselves.
- Weigh who is being hurt by the present imposition: if you are then stay quiet. God will take care. But, if others are (like your teens) there may be need to stand against publicly.
- John 10:10 is a serious matter in today's church culture. The thief comes to steal. The Shepherd comes to give life. II Cor. 3:4-5 supports such; the Law kills and the Spirit gives life. Sometimes it really isn't a matter of better opinion vs crotchety stubbornness. It is a matter of life and death. At this point it is important to remember it may be your death which ushers life to the next (or even present) generation....II Cor. 4:12.
I appreciate very much your question, Anonymous. In all things be humble for God opposes the proud. Suffering is a huge part of kingdom life. Suffer accurately and skillfully...and prayerfully.