Religious freedom gives us the right to worship as we choose. And I am so thankful to have religious freedom in this country! But what happens when we all disagree on how (or who) to worship?
Nothing demonstrates the vast array of religious beliefs in this country like the comment section of an online news article…especially when it is dealing with a religious issue. Sadly, it’s usually a lot of bickering and complaining. It’s interesting how we feel the freedom to slander one another when we’re not face to face.
I have to be honest, there have been numerous times where I have genuinely been embarrassed by the some of the comments self-proclaimed Christians chose to leave for others. Aren’t we supposed to be the ones who demonstrate Christ’s love?
Jesus once said:
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. – John 13:35 (NLT)
According to Jesus, it is our love for others that proves our love for Him.
The Bible refers to itself as a sword. It is a very powerful weapon, and we are called to use it when fighting against the enemy (Ephesians 6:10-17). Many of us misuse this weapon, however, against each other. We tear each other down instead of build each other up.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that God’s Word teaches us the difference between right and wrong, and we can trust it to be useful in preparing and equipping believers “to do every good work.”
Are we really doing “every good work” when we misuse the Word of God to win an argument?
Please hear me out. There is certainly a time and place for sound teaching and correction. The Bible is clear that God’s Word shows us what needs to be corrected in our lives so that we can grow and mature in Christ.
I have personally found this to be true in my own life. The Bible can be very convicting, and conviction brings about change. Condemnation, however, causes us to become defensive. The difference is in how the truth is presented. God’s truth needs to be spoken in love.
Harsh words cause us to put up walls in defense, but love has the power to tear these walls down.
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. … Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. – Ephesians 4:11-12, 15 (NLT)
As Christians, we need to understand the fine line between standing up for our faith, and misusing the Word of God to simply make a point. It truly is a fine line.
I completely understand feeling the need to stand up for ourselves. I can’t tell you how many times I personally have had to hold my tongue. When we use God’s Word to argue, however, we are usually adding fuel to the fire. People respond to love, not harsh words. Even if you have good intentions, harsh words will never win a religious argument.
What are your intentions? Do you desire to see the lost come to Christ or do you simply want to be right? I personally have never seen anyone come to Christ in the midst of a religious debate. As believers, we must make the decision to use the Word of God for its intended purpose. It is a weapon against the enemy and a tool that is useful for building us up in Christ.
Remember the message of the cross. Jesus came to save the world, not condemn it (John 3:17). His intention was to rescue us from sin, not rub our noses in it. Yes, Jesus often spoke harshly to Pharisees; but they were the religious leaders of the day and they were leading people away from God’s love. Jesus never spoke that way to unbelievers. He corrected and taught, but He always managed to do so in love.
For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up… – 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 (NLT)