A Good Disagreement

I received several e-mails following my latest column in the Knoxville News-Sentinel (see here http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2007/oct/07/like-christ/).  Most were positive and in agreement with what I wrote.  However, there were some that did not agree.

I am going to put a copy of some correspendence that I had with someone who disagreed with me and my comments back (with names and other descriptive text deleted).  This is not to show off.  Instead, I feel that even though we did not see eye to eye, we still did it with respect trying to understand each other.  Also, please feel free to critique how I handled it.  I need to grow, as do we all.

 Here is the original message:

Hi,

   I have been thinking about the letter you wrote in the News Sentinel recently and I really felt the need to respond, I totally disagree with your opinion that Kathy Griffins obscene comments on Jesus should be ignored or disregarded.

   It is not a matter of not fighting back when being maligned or even what Jesus would do, it is a matter of standing up as a Christian, surely you are not saying as a Christian you should sit back and not say anything or worse laugh along with the other atheist at her vulgar jokes.

   While I agree with you that Christians and especially the Church is commanded to help the poor, money from Christians as well as non- Christians is used for various reasons, that does not mean that we should not use money to advance the cause of Christ or at least stand up for Him.

    I do not usually write this type of letter and was not sure what to say and how to say it but I really wanted to respond to your letter, I attend a large conservative Church and do not know any liberal Christians and am not sure how to respond to one.

   Not trying to offend or be disagreeable but I definitely disagree with you.

Here is my response:

Thank you for reading and for your comments, even though we disagree.  One of the main reasons that I wrote the article is to get people who love Jesus to think about how we respond to those who would attack our Lord and our beliefs. 

I do appreciate your concern in trying to do the right thing.  However, a few of your comments are disturbing to me.  You state that “It is not a matter of not fighting back when being maligned or even what Jesus would do.”  I feel that being a Christian is always about “what Jesus would do.”  After all, the very word Christian means Christ-like.  When responding to those who aim their venom at what we believe, it is important to respond like Jesus would above all else.

In that line, what do you think Jesus would have done?  What do you think the Bible says about how we should react when we are persecuted and our Lord mocked?  There are plenty of scriptures that talk of turning the other check, loving and praying for those who would do us harm, and counting it all joy when we face trials and persecution.  There are none that tell us to fight back when we are persecuted or when Jesus is mocked.

That does not mean that I think we “should sit back and not say anything or worse laugh along with the other atheist at her vulgar jokes.”  I stated that I was bothered by what she said as well, so I was definately not laughing.  As for doing nothing, I did not say that either.  I suggested doing something better.  Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”  What we need to do in response to her words and others who would say the same things is to keep doing good in the world in which we live.  By acknowledging what they say, we legitimize them and take our focus off of our real mission, spreading the Gospel by showing the love of Christ to our hurting world. 

So, I agree that money should be used to “advance the cause of Christ.”  How should this be done?  Not by fighting back against the words of someone who is outside the Family of God, but by feeding the poor, preaching to the lost, and doing good to as many people as we can.

I do not believe that we should spend money “standing up” for Jesus.  His word tells me that vengeance belongs to Him.  He knows better how to deal with the Kathy Griffins of this world that you or I.

You state that you attend a conservative church, so do I.  I pastor one.  As conservative Christians, I feel that we should hold a high view of Scripture.  I believe that the Bible is inerrant and we should do all that we can to follow it.  When it says turn the other cheek, I try to do that.  When it says that we should follow the example of Jesus, I try to do that.  I fail from time to time and rely on His awesome Grace. 

You insinuate that I am a liberal Christian.  I do not feel that I am and if you heard me preach, you probably wouldn’t think so either.  I invite you to visit one of our church services.  The name of the church is Cardiff Baptist Church.  You can get here from I-40 West by getting off on the 347 exit, turning left toward Rockwood, going about 3-4 miles.  Our church is a little white church building on a hill on the left. 

Also, feel free to visit my blog at www.seekingpastor.wordpress.com.  It does not have all the “bells and whistles,” due to a lack of time, but I do the best I can.

If you would like, please continue this e-mail dialog.  I am not offended by what you wrote and I pray that you will not be offended either.  Sometimes in discussing things we find that we are not as different as we initially think.

Here is the person’s response:

Hi,

   Thanks for the explanation of your opinion, even though I still disagree with you I do understand your reasons, if we don’t take a verbal stand when someone attacks Jesus in that way then you are no different than the person that has made the attack, how can people tell the difference between a Christian and non-Christian?

   I really don’t want to carry on a debate about it, I never was very good at debating, so I think we can respectfully disagree

Here is my last response:

Thanks for agreeing to disagree.  I find that type of thinking is tragicially missing among Christians sometimes.  We don’t have to force each other to agree on everything as long as we agree that only Jesus saves people from their sins.

You ask “how can people tell the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian?”  I believe that the Bible says they will know we are Christians by our love (1 John 4:7-8, and other passages).

Sorry that this post was so long, but I felt it important to include all of the e-mails.  I deleted a few things about where the person went to church and other information.

Please comment on this if you would like.  One of the best ways to grow is by being shown where there could have been improvement.

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