That was the retort that one of my friends received over Facebook recently. I couldn’t help but be amused.
This friend pretty boldly stands against a trend in the Church. Over the last 10-15 years there has been a de-emphasis on proclaiming the gospel and an emphasis on things like serving the poor and other “social justice” causes. The popular thinking, even if it is not stated so directly, is to “live your faith without the use of words.”
The problem isn’t that emphasizing service to the poor and such are bad or unnecessary things. In fact, Christ and the apostles make clear in the Bible that things like that are non-negotiables for disciples of Christ. The problem is that “living your faith without using words” is impossible. The problem is the de-emphasis on proclamation. This is a trent that others have noticed too. We talk all day about being missional, but there is a necessary part missing in our definition of missional, namely, the proclamation part. Leaving that out is easy; after all, that is the part that will draw the ire of the world, and we don’t like being rejected. We fear man, so we let the tail wag the dog and truncate our “mission.”
So my friend boldly preaches that words and deeds are needed. The Bible views both as central. In fact, words are deeds; oftentimes a measure of real faith is a person talking about Jesus and Christianity in public and thus risking rejection from people in power.
Someone, no doubt well-meaning, responded to this message the other day by retorting, “stop baggin’ on well-meaning Christians!”
As I mentioned above, I had to chuckle at this. If I am to take that retort seriously, seems like Paul, Peter, John, Jesus, and others were being bad examples. How many times does Paul boldly confront a false gospel? How many times does Jesus not just denounce the pharisees but correct his disciples erroneous views and actions? How many times does John, in his letters, forcefully respond to false ideas that corrupt the true message of Christ?
That’s not to mention that I’ve seen the commenter critique and confront ideas that he himself views as false and harmful to the church…what about him? My friend is well-meaning, and he’s a Christian. If it is wrong to confront (this is what he was doing), then why is the commenter himself “baggin” (his words, not mine) on a well-meaning Christian? Am I to think that whenever my friend confronts, he’s attacking a helpless Christian, but when the commenter does the very same thing, he’s just right?
The difference is lost on me.
Enough of this. The tendency is to become offended and circle the wagons when our pet doctrine or pastor is critiqued. Rather than keeping the idea and the critique as the focus, we instead become incensed that someone is critiquing it at all. Confrontations can be overly inflammatory and unfair sometimes, and in those cases icing the haughty attitude of the confronter can be called for, but lets drop the useless claptrap about correction per se. Suck it up and ask, “does the person offering the correction have a point? Is it true?”