Should Christians Create Controversy?

17 10 2007

Christian DemonostrationJesus promised persecutions but we are rarely persecuted.  Jesus said a servant is not above his master and if they treated him this way we should expect more of the same…but that’s not been our experience.  Why?

The first and most disturbing answer that comes to mind is maybe we’re not following Jesus – maybe he’s not our master.   Shouldn’t Christ-followers be the most polarizing figures in society?  Shouldn’t Jesus’ disciples be constantly challenging religious leaders publicly?

Recently I’ve found myself believing the teaching of Jesus at a more radical level as I’ve engaged in intentional discipleship.  And I find myself becoming more disturbed by beliefs that oppose his teachings.  But there is a step I have not taken.  I sit here on this blog and spout these beliefs mostly to people who care about me and trust my character.  But I’m one step away from really choosing to CREATE controversy.

So my question is simple.  Are Christ-followers supposed to cross that line?  All of my training, all that has been modeled to me and all of my culturally conditioned values say NO.  But I have not been commanded to follow those things.  Jesus commands “follow me”.

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17 responses

17 10 2007
fullbodytransplant

Very interesting question.

I have always thought we could catch more flies with honey than vinegar, but you may be right.

17 10 2007
eden2zion

Yah, that argument that you catch more flies with honey has always resonated with me but what about this possibility, that we don’t want to catch “more” flies but a certain type of fly (to totally abuse the heck out of this analogy).

When you create controversy what happens. Out of 100 people you may have “caught” 95 scatter but what are you left with? 5 people who now will stand with you and become real disciples. Perhaps that what we should be concerned with “catching”. This seemed to be Jesus’ primary focus.

17 10 2007
PB and J

wow!!!

incredible post…i promise, i will meditate on what you say and definitely think about how it can apply in my life. you ask some really hard questions, i love it. i look forward to hearing more.

may we pursue Jesus with all our heart,
peter

17 10 2007
Are We Supposed to Insult Religious Leaders? « Mere Humanity

[…] religious leaders of his day? trackback i usually try not to copy and paste other blog posts, but this one i felt was […]

17 10 2007
eden2zion

Hey PB,

You’re jumping into the next logical question which is HOW should we create this controversy and insulting religious leaders certainly would be one way to do it. Let me give this some thought. I think there may be a totally new way of stirring up controversy unique to Christian disciples that hasn’t been done.

17 10 2007
PB and J

absolutely…i posed my question more as one to cause controversy, maybe not one that i will actually do often. but it is worth thinking about for sure.

peter

17 10 2007
billphillips

Eden2Zion,

I think you’re definitely on the right track. We should preach the Gospel, and stand for what’s right, and controversy will be a guaranteed side effect. If we’re not doing those things, we won’t be persecuted, but we’re also not being obedient.

Thanks,
Bill

7 01 2008
RevRusty

Believers ought to seek and do God’s will — nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. And that’s only a prayer away, thank God.

I’ll never forget when a friend asked me to protest an abortion clinic with him. I said I’d pray about it. When my friend asked why wouldn’t I go, I answered: “God just might have something else for me that day. I’ve got to ask to make sure.”

Too often we do what we think God wants and ask Him to bless it. I’m not afraid of controversy and usually think it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission — except with the Lord’s work. As His representatives, we must do what He wants, something that usually flies in the face of conventional thinking.

And it’s a hoot, as they say down in Texas, when God gives the green light, because you’ll be acting in His power, His ability and sometimes His protection. You’ll have His peace, even when family and friends doubt you and enemies assail you. In fact, everything may not turn out right here and now, but the Lord will in time honor and reward your obedience.

13 04 2008
Zane Anderson

Controversy indeed follows the faithful. Too seldom, though, are matters resolved – in person or on the internet.

Get ready for: “Why, that’s not what I was saying.” “Well, that’s not what I meant.” “You’re taking it all out of context.”

How few are ever brought to: “Thank you for showing me where I was mistaken – I am now better off than before.”

29 05 2008
Glenn

Loved RevRusty’s post. I think thats the bottom line. We’ve got to seek God’s will. I’ve been led to post some pretty harsh stuff. “Letter to Pastors”

http://thebigpictureministry.htohananet.com/blog/_archives/2008/5/22/3706808.html

Lets all carry our crosses!
Glenn

29 05 2008
eden2zion

Hi Glen,

Great letter! I’d like to add about 20 points to those you mentioned. 🙂

What keeps many of these guys from doing things differently is simply –

1. They don’t know any other model
2. They are not apostolic (read: architect) so they don’t have the gifts to build a new model.

I’ve come to the conclusion many pastors NEED to partner and align with someone with an apostolic gift in order to reform their current model and align with Scripture.

Maybe that’s you?

2 06 2008
Jason Reid

Yes

18 07 2008
Glenn

I’ve been hearing that my audience is not really pastors, that pastors will continue with the status quo until it stops working, but I had to post the letter – just in case any might be listening.

I have tried to reach out to individual Pastors that I know. So far all have “declined”.

How do we help the masses see past todays Church Machine? How help them find the truth and free them deception?

God’s Church of Man’s Substitute
http://thebigpictureministry.htohananet.com/blog/_archives/2008/7/10/3787575.html

God Bless
Glenn

13 10 2008
Brad Currah

Some scattered thoughts and responses to the many great comments and musings above.

I suppose that some people will hate us, or anyone at all, who creates the right kind of controversy, for any given reasons. Obviously we’re wanting to obey Jesus, and we’re talking about persecution that arises from obedience, but… there are those crazy guys who go to college campuses and yell at students, calling passing women prostitutes. They gain an audience, and then they can talk gospel stuff to the masses. They’re convinced that when we get pissed at them, that they must be experiencing persecution.

Here are some ways to get the attention of people… so that they will listen, (and maybe persecute us). In order to engage in pushing forth what we believe to be the truth:

*write a book. To gain clout. You become an expert. Pastors will talk about you in their sermons. Then you can start helping them to see more truth.

*plant a “successful” large “church,” so that other big hitters will listen to you, and so you can passionately dispense your convictions weekly to an eager audience.

*Start controversial blogs, websites… write news articles, etc. Be slightly misunderstood or vague to start with, in order to gain an audience that you can then defete publically, and win their hearts to Jesus.

*Get a soap box and a heckler, and travel everywhere promoting the truth to anyone who will listen.

*Or, maybe we don’t worry about “religious leaders”. Maybe we build disciples who build disciples, and take over the world that way…?

Maybe in the process of obeying Jesus (Making disciples and loving each other), the world will begin to hate / persecute us. In fact, if anyone hates us while we’re obeying, then they’re probably part of the world…whether or not they’re “religious leaders” or “important”

Did Jesus (I’m really asking) confront the religious leaders, or did they confront Him as he obeyed, whereby he was honest with them… calling them out as he saw them. Was His goal ever to go after them, or was it to knock them down when they got in the way of His mission. Yes, very real hardcore controversy, but did he pick his fights for the fight, or for His other mission(s). Did they hate him because he picked fights, or because he was (gaining a following from being) godly.

I wonder too… I imagine the most effective confrontations we’ll have are embodied ones. Where relationships are. A news article or blog post or firey sermon are all words with no relationship. Jesus confronted as he healed the sick. He put hypocrites in their place publically, amongst his friends, as he loved his sheep, as he cast out demons and showed compassion and fed people. Shared the good news. As he went about his Father’s business.

I’m not really arguing, but meandering. Jesus said people will hate “…you because of me.” I think that a calm loving Christian who has compassion is in some ways more enraging and threatening to the world than a controversial guy, a goldy one, who is looking for a fight. (not claiming that anyone on this thread is that guy.)

I wonder if it’s more dangerous and offensive to the enemy… to the world, to love 5 orphans and train them in the gospel, than it is to win arguments with the local clerics down the road. I guess my vote would be to argue with them as they come against you, not just because they’re misleading others.

Pastors, clerics, regular joes, religious leaders, authors, bishops, popes, orphans, welfare recipiants, neigborhood kids, us… aren’t we’re all on the same playing field? And, maybe it just doesn’t look that way.

Up with Jesus.
Brad Currah

15 10 2008
eden2zion

I’ve been thinking about this topic quite frequently for a year now and believe this does make sense if you see geography as having some bearing on Kingdom responsibility.

Thus in your city there may be churches, ministries in leaders that are best to cooperate with, others to let be and others to confront. Paul did all three in almost every city he entered (read Acts 19) but this must be done carefully and in love for the people, the city and the Kingdom.

20 10 2008
brad currah

You know a lot more than I do about how Jewish synagogues worked in those days… Am I to understand that various people could stand and talk at given times, sort of in a midrash fashion? In that case, in Acts 19 maybe Paul is trying to best use a cultural opportunity to preach to “unbelievers,” Rather than stir up controversy in general.

8b “Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them.

Paul preached to unbelievers, they gave him the finger and so he left. Seems like if fruit comes out of it, then great… otherwise forget it. (Obviously “controversy” isn’t the issue, but fruit.)

If you can troll for biters who you can then convince to make disciples, rather than continue in building structures, then perhaps stirring something up is useful towards the end fruit.

I suppose the real question is motive.
“Should Christians preach and train in the gospel, even if it’s controversal?” For sure.

20 10 2008
eden2zion

Yah, I think we agree. Controversy is not a means to an end (as I was exploring in this post) it really is simply a byproduct of being on mission to see a unified effort to disciple an entire city, but it should be avoided if possible (without compromising the message). But we have to acknowledge that a time does come in a unifying movement when confrontation of others is necessary.

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