During CPC’s workshop, “LGBT Push in School and Culture: A Christian Response,” followers of Jesus are challenged to share their biblical values while having their words be seasoned with grace. Across this country, pastors, politicians and activists are rewarded with media coverage and “clicks” when they present their message with inflammatory language, name-calling, and anger.
Oftentimes liberals present their anger in the name of “love,” and conservatives in the name of “truth.” Does a middle ground remain for the people of God to present truth with love to those who have not believed upon Jesus Christ?
The Bible tells us in Luke 9 that Jesus Christ was rejected by the Samaritans, a people group that had a different ethnic and religious background. When His disciples James and John saw this they asked Jesus, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” Jesus responded and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” (v. 54-56).
In the midst of rejection, Jesus used the righteous anger of his disciples and taught them a lesson: Steward the truth with grace, not condemnation. Jesus understood that His mission was to bear the condemnation of sin on the cross, not distribute it amongst the sinner. Salvation of the lost was his priority when engaging with sin and debating Scripture in the public square.
During the 2023 legislative session in Frankfort, inflammatory language, name-calling and anger was at an all time high. Transgender activist groups claimed that prohibiting “gender-affirming” surgeries and hormone therapy for minors would directly result in the suicide of children. “Their blood is on your hands,” claimed one activist. They screamed and shouted at the Kentucky State Capitol in an attempt to silence legislative debate on Senate Bill 150.
How are we to engage with individuals who disagree and desire confrontation?
In Ephesians 4:6, believers are encouraged to “Be angry and do not sin.” James 1:19 states, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”
In the Gospels, Jesus did get angry. Interestingly, it was towards those of the Jewish faith who stood on truth but did not extend grace. The Pharisees were prideful, greedy and vicious (Matthew 23). Jesus referenced them as “serpents” and a “brood of vipers” after seeing how the religious leaders treated the people of God.
Jesus shows a clear example of how we can defend the merits of scripture amongst our fellow believers, and how to extend grace while engaging in conversations with those who don’t believe in Christ. When Jesus confronted the Samaritan woman and Zacchaeus the tax collector, He extended the truth of God with the grace to offer repentance.
There is societal pressure to match the level of anger that your colleagues and opponents have. It may raise more money and get more media coverage, but it will leave your witness of Christ in shambles. A relationship with God through Jesus offers peace, hope and love. Do our relationships and conversations reflect what Jesus offers us? “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Love is an action word, not just a cliché response for those in your family. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:44, 46).
In 2024, the political tension is set to rise to a new level. The presidential candidates will use inflammatory language, name-calling and anger, but will the people of God follow their leadership? We are to stand on the truth of God’s Word, but not use the same “rules of engagement.” If we win the argument but lose the person, we will have missed our mission given by God.
CPC’s encouragement is to love, listen, teach and pray. May God give us the boldness to speak the truth with grace so that all may come unto the knowledge and saving grace of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.