Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Confronting Being Non-confrontational

Confrontation is uncomfortable.  It is not something that anyone should like to do, but it is something we all need to do.  Whether it be someone who does not know the Lord thinking they are going to "a better place" despite their decision to reject the grace offered through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ or if it is someone in the Lord and not living like it and thinking that God accepts their sin, we are called to make our stand for truth and that oftentimes involves confrontation.  Our failure to confront wrong beliefs or wrong behavior allow them to thrive because our lack of confrontation is default approval.  And that has helped the church along as it slides into apostacy.

First let us take a look at confronting other believers.
For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money,  but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.  Titus 1:7-9 NKJV
I know the first reaction for many would be that this is specifically for a bishop and not for the "regular" Christian. There is too much made out of the whole idea of lay and professional Christians.  It leads to arrogance on the part of some of the professionals and it gives lazy laypersons an excuse to not do more.  The requirements for a bishop are nothing special and they are things we should all aspire to.  A bishop, in the true sense of the word, is not some special and separate kind of Christian but an example of a model Christian.  They are our examples and those requirements they succeed in are things we are all required to do.  For our purposes today, we need to focus on "holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict."  That is something we are all called to do.  We can not just laugh off Christians who believe something wrong.  If they come to us with some strange doctrine and we just smile and listen and say nothing, then we have just endorsed their error.  I believe many errors start this way.  It begins with one person who is not corrected and confronted before he or she is able to convince enough people to turn that error into a large problem for the church.  We must confront others on their error otherwise the error ignored today can become the heresy that leads many astray tomorrow. 

Another thing we must do is to confront others on their sin. 
Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.  Matthew 18:15 NKJV
I think this is an area we fail in the most.  We hate to strain relationships and so we accept without confrontation much sinful behavior in our presence.  If a Christian tells you a dirty joke, do you confront him?  It a Christian gets drunk in your presence, do you just laugh at it and let it be?  If a Christian friend or relative is dating, moving in with, or marrying a nonbeliever do you just smile and say how "perfect" you are for each other?  I know I have failed in this, and I know and have seen many others fail as well.  Yes, a relationship may be strained and yes they may reject what you have to say, but if you they hear you, you have gained your brother.  In other words, if you confront and that person repents, you have just made that relationship better.  We should not just laugh and accept sinful behavior in the life of another believer.  Our failure to confront that sin makes it acceptable.  Please understand that sin is never acceptable to God.  God had to send His only son to die for that sin.  God hates sin. 

And what of unbelievers?  We should never leave them with the impression that their rejection of Jesus Christ will lead them to a "better place." 
He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. John 3:36 NKJV
The fact is no matter how good they think they are, no matter how much you pray for them, and no matter how much you love them, if they do not accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, they will not go to heaven.  Let me put it more bluntly, they will be sent to Hell for all of eternity.  If you love that person, you can not let them think anything other than that.  I am not saying to clobber them with the Gospel every time you are together, but they should not be allowed to think they are destined for anywhere other than judgement.  I know talking about Jesus can cause confrontation even among unsaved friends and family, but the stakes are too high to not take that risk.  Their eternal soul is at stake and your word and witness may be all that separates them from Heaven or Hell.  You must live the truth and speak the truth.  You must show the work of Jesus in your life.  Please do not ever think it is loving to let someone think they are going anywhere other than Hell for the sake of that relationship. 

With a post regarding confrontation, I would be remiss if I did not mention an important aspect of Christian confrontation.  We must do it in the spirit of love and grace.
[Let] your speech always [be] with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Colossians 4:6 NKJV
Confronting others must be done in love and humility.  You can not just go up to them and hit them over the head with your Bible and expect them to hear anything you have  to say.  We must go to them in love and share with them in the the truth of God's word.  The goal is not to drive them away (even though that may very well be the end result), but it is to bring them to repentance or salvation.  You are trying to gain your brother and sister and not lose them.  You are trying to restore a relationship (or create one where there is none with God) and the way to do that is with love.  You must also do so with a clean heart.  People are much less likely to listen to a hypocrite.  If you are not living the life you are preaching then your words are meaningless.  If you live like you love sin then how can you share with another that sin is wrong?  If you do not study your Bible than how can you share legitimately with others that they are in error?  If you do not live like Jesus is the most important thing in your life, how can you expect to convince an unbeliever that Jesus is the most important thing in your life.  Words are empty without actions.  Confrontations are meaningless if you do not model the behavior you are trying to correct. 

I know that confrontation is a scary thing.  None of us like to see relationships broken and often we accept without confrontation many bad things in the lives of others.  We have a wrong belief in the idea of being loving and peacemakers.  The fact is that being a Christian will mean the end of some relationships.  The Bible is clear on that.

If you think that it is better to maintain a relationship with someone spreading destructive heresies in the church without confrontation is right, the Bible says differently. 
Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.  Romans 16:17-18 NKJV

Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.  Titus 3:10-11 NKJV
Give someone a chance to repent of their heresy, then have nothing to do with that person.  They have no interest in truth. 

If you think that it is better to continue to allow a brother or sister in the Lord to sin without confrontation in order to maintain a relationship, the Bible says you are wrong.
Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' And if he refuses to hear them, tell [it] to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.  Matthew 18:15-17 NKJV

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.  1 Corinthians 5:11 NKJV
Again, give them plenty of space to repent, but if they refuse then it is not a relationship you are supposed to have.  We are not supposed to allow the brother or sister living a life of sin to enjoy the fellowship of the church.  That only serves to comfort them in their sin and will not lead to any ultimate repentance. 

And, finally, our families and loved ones can not be led to believe that they are going to heaven without accepting Jesus.  I know they will reject you.  I know they will call you "judgmental" and many other negative things.  Sadly, this is a reality we must live with as Christians.  In some parts of the world, your family may even kill you for proclaiming the truth.  This is not sad for our own sakes, but for the sakes of those who reject the truth we share with them out of love.  In the end, we must never put any relationship above our Lord or the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We must also get over the worldly idea of what loving is.  We seem to have come to the idea that being loving is about protecting feelings.  With that attitude, we will continue to "love" people right into Hell.  We must put truth above personal feelings and we must put our love for Jesus over the love of even our dearest of loved ones. 
Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and 'a man's enemies will be those of his [own] household.' He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  Matthew 10:34-37 NKJV

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