On Wednesday evening I observed three Christian & Missionary Alliance pastors going at each other on Facebook. Someone created a group for C&MA pastors and then someone else, I presume, signed me up. Thanks… whoever you are. I don’t join groups on Facebook — ever! I just don’t want that clutter, but I never bothered to remove myself. With some fascination, and more than a little annoyance, I read through the interchange between these men who shepherd other churches.
Occasionally, someone else would join the spat in a vain attempt to bring peace, but most of the conversation consisted of these three guys seeking to zing and “one-up” the other. They questioned the other’s theology, intentions, character and calling to ministry; simply because two of those guys hold to a certain interpretation from the New Testament — and the other believed the opposite. The doctrine in question, by the way, is neither essential to the Gospel nor is it clearly defined in the NT, with bible passages supporting both sides of the argument. Good Evangelical Christian leaders stand on both sides of the aisle on this subject. Yet, each was pompous enough to be convinced they were right, and oblivious to the world listening in, and they kept digging the hole deeper and deeper. (By the way Elder Team, I EXPECT you to call me out if I ever engage in this type of behavior in any fashion.) I wonder where their Elder Teams were at in this spectacle?
Now, this is not the first time I have witnessed behavior like this… I have often had to step into social media spats that make public things that should be handled in private, or in instances where someone is not valuing another in a Christ-like fashion… with TEENAGERS! Teenagers who were Christians, but had not yet developed the social awareness, spiritual depth and biblical understanding to fully comprehend how to live out Jesus’ command of “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Grown folks… pastors? They ought to know better.
What do we gain when we bloody each others’ noses? Is the Kingdom advanced? Is Jesus glorified? The Apostle Paul challenges us… “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10 ESV Let’s remember folks, there is a time to call out behavior. Sometimes confrontation must take place. Peacemaking is a necessary component of the Kingdom. But… there is a Christ-like way to do it!
Jesus said, “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.” Matthew 18:15-16 NLT What is the heart of Jesus’ teaching here? In any disagreement… always… always… deal directly with the other person involved… privately. Going public harms the person and the reputation of the Kingdom. Let’s take this lesson to heart… always value and honor each other in every circumstance… and always handle conflict privately and with grace.