I had every intention of repeating last week’s pattern and tackling two common misconceptions of Christianity, but found that this would not do justice to the passage from which we are about to study. So today we will discuss the error that Christians should never say anything that might offend someone or hurt someone’s feelings.
While there are a plethora of misconceptions or mistaken notions about Christianity and Christians in general, I have a list from which I’ve chosen to work. But I want to encourage you to communicate with me what, in your opinion, you feel is a common misconception of Christianity which we should try to answer together. [Refer to bulletin question]
Christian history is built upon people who, at some point in their life, became unafraid to speak and stand for what is right. Our founding fathers built this nation upon Christian principles. This is contrary to what the opposition might have you believe. The principles are public information, though, and it speaks for itself. But outside the boundaries of our country, there were men and women who gave their lives for the cause of Christ, going against the mainstream, risking it all for truth (in love).
Where is that today? It would seem that things have changed and an air of indifference has become supreme. But, the reality is that nothing has changed. All we’ve known are a few voices at a time who will allow God to speak through them like a bullhorn in the midst of a large crowd. Even now there are still only a few loud voices for Christ, and the church has been finally and rightfully dubbed, “The silent majority.”
Wouldn’t it be something, if Christians would stand unified and speak with one voice, saying that we are no longer silent, but we are the voice of God, the voice of truth, and then in the same vein live our lives in truth?
Today, we will discuss the nemesis to truth, in the misconception that:
Christians should never say anything that might offend someone or hurt someone's feelings. (Eph. 4:1-16)
At face value, this misconception seems pretty harmless, but let’s take a look at the snowball effect of this statement and how the mistake multiplies.
People read Paul’s words in verses 1-2 and determine how a Christian is to act. (4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.) This is noble and this is right.
Verses 1-2 – The misconception is that we should be meek and mild, and publicly humble. But, I have been witness to how this can breed dysfunction in the family of God. When one is steamrolled outside the church and tends to be silent in the world, and then they come ‘home’ and vocally destroy each other in the church.
When Paul writes about meekness and humility, he tells them to bear with one another in love. What we fail to acknowledge is that this is referring to the body. We have it all wrong, it seems. It’s not that we shouldn’t be humble and meek in the world, it’s just that our priority is to our brother’s and sister’s in Christ and secondly
In context, Paul was referring to the people of the church in how they are to act toward each other, in love. (Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.)
We focus so much upon how we act toward people who are not Christians, but the argument against Christianity is that when someone who is not in the church evaluates the church they see people who are supposed to be Christian and acting meek and humble in love with each other, acting like complete fools who can’t stand each other.
Don’t you think that the best witness we can have to the world is that we act like we are supposed to act around each other? How can we love the world if we don’t love ourselves? How can we attract the world to Christ, if we act like we can’t stand those who are in Christ?
The second way that the misconception multiplies is we begin to doubt the teaching of the church, because the squeakiest wheel principle kicks in, and we allow ourselves to be caught up in the loudest argument, not necessarily the best one. And then, we begin to splinter and our unity is destroyed.
The world would teach that we have to be tolerant of all belief systems and faiths. But this is only partially true (the way Satan works – in half-truths). The fact is, we spend so much time and energy trying to prove ourselves right and other faith’s wrong, and fail to focus on the foundation of our faith.
While apologetics is right and necessary, in that we give a defense for the Christian faith and Peter writes to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have,” Which makes it totally Biblically. We tend to get tunnel vision and go on this seek and destroy mission in the name of Christ.
Let me be clear, we may be meek and humble, but we do not have to compromise our faith in the one true God. Paul summarizes our faith history for us in verses 4-5 (4 There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.) We are strongest when we are unified in Christ and one voice.
But we all have lives outside of the church, and there are times when we are alone in our faith. The third thing that amplifies this mistake is that we are made to feel ignorant because we do not have tangible facts, yet we believe.
This week, I read an article about Astrophysicist Steven Hawking which gave much weight to his statement that he has determined that there is not a need for God in creation. He concludes that all of the rules of science and physics point to the reality of creation from nothing. But as I read closely I found that he is very matter of fact about what he even labels as a theory, which by definition is an educated guess. Need I say more?
Your faith is your faith because it is a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Not because someone told you that it was true or that something else was untrue. That, by definition, is no theory. Verse 7 says, But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. In other words, he has given you what you need, so that you may know.
Why not stand up for it, regardless of whose feelings it may hurt or who might be offended. The instruction is very clear for the leaders of the church that they were to teach the truth of Christ in order to prepare the people (verse 11-12)
11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
Do you think that means that we are supposed to be silent? Verse 14 continues the passage, so that Paul may teach us that we are on a faith continuum, and as we grow we will not be duped into submission. Rather, we are to “speak the truth IN LOVE.”
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
What if we were no longer a silent majority, but we outwardly lived our faith in everything that we do and say. Not concerned about hurting someone’s feelings or offending anyone, but by simply being like Christ.
Paul wrote in another passage, to follow his example, as he followed the example of Christ. Why can’t we do that today?
First, we must humble ourselves to one another and be the example of Christian love to the world.
Second, we must know the one in whom we place our trust and follow him with our whole heart, not half truth.
Finally, we must not back down, but stand on the truth, in love.
What is it that God would have you do with this message today?