CONTROVERSY: A ROADBLOCK TO TRUTH II 09.22.19 excerpt
In an ever changing world, it is naïve to assume that you share a closely aligned set of values with people who you once did. Societal views about morality have been redefined over time and things remain unpredictable. Now more than ever, people feel stifled in their conversations with others about morality for fear of saying something “politically incorrect” or offending someone.
We hear phrases like: “I didn’t want to start an argument”; “people are free to believe what they want”; “it’s not my job to tell them what’s right”; “I’m not their judge”; “it isn’t worth the hassle”; or “there is too much controversy around this topic”. There’s the word…controversy.
Controversy is defined as a prolonged public discussion, dispute, debate, or argument about something that many people strongly disagree about, disapprove of, or are shocked by. It can be polarizing. And, when controversy is in the way, it is hard to get to truth; it becomes a barrier. God’s Word lets us know that it is truth that makes us free. When we walk in anything other than truth, we are in bondage.
As we think about Christianity and the controversy we are facing, we must remember that Christianity came into existence in controversy. The Israelite nation had long awaited the coming Messiah. He was prophesied about in Old Testament scripture over 300 times by some of the most notable prophets. But when Jesus arrived on the scene, those who were awaiting His arrival didn’t recognize Him even in the face of fulfilled prophecies. As Jesus’s earthly ministry unfolded, He became a controversial figure, but not because He was trying to make a name for Himself or become a spectacle. It was because He challenged the religious leaders in their understanding and concepts about God.
Jesus was unconventional. He refused to conform to their generally accepted practices. Therefore, He was constantly questioned, confronted, and harassed by these religious leaders who sought to silence Him at every juncture. This is not an unfamiliar scenario in our world today. Christians are finding themselves in the midst of controversy based upon the expression of our beliefs. Many in the world would like to silence us as well.
Even after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the controversy over Christianity didn’t stop. In fact, it only grew stronger. The Bible lets us know that there was great persecution against the church in those days. Religious tyrants, namely Saul of Tarsus, went on a tirade entering house after house, dragging Christian men and women off to jail. But God stopped Saul abruptly in his tracks on the road to Damascus and he was converted! This man who had violently attacked followers of Christ by imprisoning them, chasing them and voting to sentence them to death, had now become one of them!
This shows us that God is a redeemer, a restorer and a bridge-builder. He will fulfill His plan for your life no matter what you’ve done if you surrender to Him. This gives us hope for those who have been resistant to the Truth of the Gospel. It only took one moment for God to chip away everything in Saul’s heart. We never know the moment when someone will step out of darkness into His marvelous light. So, we must keep praying, believing and expecting.
As Jesus sent His disciples into the towns in and around Jerusalem, He told them that they would be like sheep among wolves. They should therefore be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves. The intended message is that as we take the Gospel into a controversial and even hostile world, we must be wise in avoiding the snares and traps set for us, and we must be innocent and go in peace…and love.