A Fair Minded Faith
Many times, I see Christians who are quick to “avenge” God’s position when it comes to things like a particular political position, a particular cultural phenomenon, etc. They jump all over the perceived perpetrators, Christian or not, as if they, themselves, were God. This is unwise. While we may have our personal opinions, and we may just KNOW that something is right or wrong, we must always walk circumspectly in responding to others because often, in our own human anger, we undo the grace of God. Our faith should be a “sweet aroma” of Christ, not the angry tempestuous wrath of an unholy substitute for God.
One of the reasons why we should not jump to Jonah-like conclusions and condemn those who we “think” are Ninevites is the facts that are stated in verses 19-21 of James 1:
“19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires. F5
21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
Remember it was God’s desire to save the Ninevites, but Jonah wanted only wrath for them. I often see some Jonah’s acting out in Yahoo Answers, just waiting for those nasty Ninevites to show their faces. They act out in anger, trashing their opponents, and feeling, I am sure, great piety for coming to God’s assistance, much like Peter, when he cut off Malphus’ ear. However, God tells us to act differently, much like Jesus did when He restored Malphus’ ear even as He went to the Cross. So what is it that God expects us to do? Just stand there? No, I don’t think so.
James goes on to say what we should do in verses 22-26:
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. 26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.(ESV)
This is where the Word undoes our shameful behavior; behavior, I’m afraid that has lost us much of our audience. James tells us that what we read in the Word is not unbridled anger at those who don’t believe as we do, who don’t have the hope that we have. What we read is forgiveness, grace, and mercy toward others who are actually afflicted with the world’s ills. We are to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, not fight with atheists on Yahoo Answers. We are to bring grace, truth, and life to those who God would have in His Kingdom. We are not to forget this calling. It was Jesus’ calling, and therefore ours. Our faith, a fair-minded faith, is to be grace-filled ambassadors for Christ (2Cor 5:17-21). Our faith should not lead us away from the Word toward fighting and quarrelling with those who disagree with us and have no interest in our God. It should be working to bring in the Kingdom that is by ministering to the poor and lost in the world who need what we have to give. Remember Jesus did not come to minister to the righteous (self-righteous), but to the sinners and the sick. Keep that in mind, in order to have a fair-minded faith.
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Rev Dr. Cheryl A Durham, Biblical Counselor, Discipleship Coach, Above and Beyond Discipleship Ministries, a Living Truth Ministry, provides services for individuals and groups online and via teleconference. www.abovenbeyonddiscipleship.com