Divisive and Offensive: Perceived, Created, or Actual?
We are never going to agree on everything. Even within a marriage, the most intimate of all human relationships, there are differences. It is all part of being God’s individual creation. I happen to believe we balance one another out. But, that’s just me…
I’ve received some questions regarding my a) personality, b) biblical backing, c) commitment to the Lord, and d) tendency to question “the church.” If all my readers were Catholic, I’d tell them to read about Saint Catherine of Siena. However, for those of you who are not Catholic, you have no idea what that means. My role is to question “the church.” That’s why I am wired the way I am wired. I am not trying to degrade the church or influence you. I am trying to challenge the church and challenge you, the Christian. Time is a-wastin’ and we need a fire built under us.
We can disagree without being divisive. We can question status quo and tradition without being offensive. We cannot, however, control how someone else takes something we say either in context or completely out of context. My job is to speak up (or blog up). My job isn’t to convince you of anything.
So, I prayed for God to reveal His truth to me and this is what the Spirit revealed:
Division and becoming offended is a natural byproduct of humanity. Try as we may, we are never going to see eye-to-eye on everything all the time. There are times we perceive a wrongdoing that is not wrong at all. BUT, there are other times we choose to be divisive and we intentionally offend. We create problems. Then, of course, there are actual divisions and offenses.
Perceived: If you read Matthew 22:23-46, you will discover that Christ had many doctrinal differences with the religious leaders of His day. The religious leaders and sects found His teachings divisive. NOT because He was lying or trying to stir up trouble, but because He questioned their legitimacy and accuracy when it came to interpreting scripture. (Just a note, a lawyer was involved. I rest my case.) If we find ourselves in a doctrinal debate, it is very important for us to ask ourselves: What glorifies Christ? When glorifying Christ (not our opinion, not our religion, not our ego), we can reach common ground, or peace, if we are willing to apply the biblical concept of submitting to one another. Offense forgotten. Division solved. Well, unless we’re still mad because the person doesn’t agree with us. The religious leaders of Christ’s day held on to the offense. They held so tightly to their offenses that they killed Him.
Created: Please read 1 Corinthians 1:10-17. Paul had to deal with people being offensive and causing division because they were choosing faithfulness to a leader over staying faithful to Christ’s teaching. Everyone has their preferred style of leader. All of us have our preferred beliefs and practices. None of us should be trying to show another one up by comparing human leaders. Paul was forced to deal with stupid arguments from shallow Christians all the time. When you put a leader above The Leader, there will be problems among us.
Actual: So, when should we be offended and go ahead and separate ourselves from the divisive party? Romans 16:17-19 tells us. If the person is seeking to “fill their own belly,” or self-gratification and recognition, drop them like a hot potato. If this person is simply saying what sounds good to make themselves look good, don’t feel you have to listen just because they demand an audience. When anyone has their own best interest at heart instead of meeting the actual needs of others, they need to move on down the road. We must stand firm in our faith in Christ Jesus. That faith puts Christ first. There is no doctrine anywhere in the bible that teaches self-elevation, self-gratification, or selfishness. If you find it, call me. “Be wise in what is good” (Christ) and “simple concerning evil.” In other words, focus on Christ. Don’t argue; drop it and move on. By all means, do not defend the egomaniac.
So, what am I saying? I don’t know. That’s between you and the Lord. I can only share what He taught me. Right about now, you are most likely saying, “Yes, but…” Which brings us right back to the first sentence: We are never going to agree on everything.
‘Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire!’ - St. Catherine of Siena