Saturday, August 11, 2007

Speaking in Love?

Walk in Wisdom - Gleanings from the Scripture2 Tim. 2.23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorantcontroversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24And the Lord's servant must must not be quarrelsomebut kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduringevil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. Godmay perhaps grant them a knowledge of the truth, andthey may come to their senses and escape from thesnare of the devil, after being captured by him to do hiswill.I just watched it for the second time" "Lifting the Veilof Polygamy" - produced by Living Hope Ministries: And I am as, if notmore profoundly moved by it this time. Seeing howdeeply so many are mired in the false teaching,deception and heartbreak of Mormonism, both main-stream and the fundamentalist/polygamous types. Myheart just breaks.Maybe you're like me, and when you see such things,you want to come down really really hard on those whoare their apologists and missionaries. My first response(Father, please forgive me) was to want to throttle them.But of course, as our text above notes, that is not theproper response at all. In fact, just the opposite. Whichalso then begs the question of how we deal with Christiansof other stripes when we disagree. But that will have to waituntil another time. For now, I want to help us grasp just 3principles from our text, and handle them in the context ofaddressing those we interact with from cults and falsereligions.Note first, that Paul instructs Timothy to "have nothing todo with foolish, ignorant controversies." This he says onthe heels of mentioning the teaching of Hymenaus andPhiletus, "who have swerved away from the truth, sayingthat the resurrection has already happened. This is VERYserious stuff. And it must be addressed - some. But not toget ourselves all caught up in it. Some, especially thosewho major on such issues, will no doubt think us simplydismissive. So be it. Better to pour ourselves into the buildingup of the saints in Christ, and bringing the lost to Him. Yes,as Paul's second dictate will show us, we DO deal with them,but sparingly. It isn't worth the debate most of the time.Note secondly, that he bids Timothy to remember hisdemeanor is to remain "gentle" in these exchanges. I knowfor myself, the frustration of such encounters can makeyou want to wring somebody's neck. But no. Gentlenessis the approach. That is not to imply even slightly that we donot speak the truth absolutely, clearly and withoutequivocation. Precision, and firmness are essential. But alsoa gentle attitude. This is not Friday Night Smackdown - it is,it MUST be done in kindness and looking to bring correction,not win the battle or bludgeon their brains. I blush to thinkhow I have been to so many over the years. Harsh with thosein the Church over issues like the doctrines of grace, andharsh with those outside, like Mormons, Jehovah's Witnessesand the like.Lastly, we are to view these folks as certain way. A way whichprovokes compassion from our own hearts, rather than rancor.We are to treat them as those who are "captured" by thedevil, "to do his will." Can there be anything more pitiful in allthe world than one caught in the snare of the devil? This isnot a time for bombast, but beseeching prayer. Not a time forverbal floggings, but pleading and entreaty. To speak the truthclearly, gently, and lovingly - with an eye toward their liberation.Lord, make us such a people.