I once heard someone say, “Christians are the only people who shoot their wounded.” While that’s a bit of an exaggeration, it’s basically true. Christians seem to be quick to turn on a brother or sister who has fallen.
By “fallen,” I don’t necessarily mean they’ve openly sinned (although, that could be included in the category). Sometimes, fallen seems to apply to someone who used to be in line with our own thinking and have now deviated from our particular position. As an evangelical, I see this a lot within the ranks of those purported to “be on my side” (so to speak). This attitude is certainly not limited to one segment of the Christian population, however. I see it everywhere. The church (regardless of the labeling) seems ready—almost eager—to pounce on a spiritual sibling who has deviated from the norm (whatever the norm is perceived to be).
“Don’t we have a Savior?”
Frankly, this has got to stop. I understand we’re going to have disagreements. In fact, there are loads of issues on which we’ll never come to terms with each other. That doesn’t mean we have to attack each other in the process. Aren’t we bigger than that? Don’t we have a Savior who denounced that sort of attitude (see Matthew 7:1-5)?
I’m all for a healthy dialogue. I enjoy a good discussion. I learn (sometimes thrive) in situations where issues are debated. However, when these things devolve into name-calling and character assassination, I’m left as cold as a Southern Italian in the Antarctic. It turns me off, and (if I understand Scripture correctly) Jesus isn’t too thrilled with it either.
At this juncture, I want to stop and pat my denomination on the back. We are currently going through a major battle that looks for-all-the-world to be headed toward a definite schism. Whether I’m right or wrong on that assessment of our state of affairs, we seem to be dealing with it pretty well. There’s not a lot of disparagement or derision occurring (at least not from what I can see). It’s an extremely touchy situation, but we appear to be handling it with grace and humility. Even if we ultimately split, it looks like it could be an amicable one.
“We don’t have to pounce…”
I use this example to remind us that, not only does this have to stop, it CAN stop. We have the ability to make it stop. We’re not animals acting on instinct alone. We can think, we can feel, we can reason. We don’t have to shoot our wounded. We don’t have to pounce on those who disagree with us.
It’s bad enough we have to watch this type of behavior within the political class. There’s no excuse for its existence within the church. We should be waging our battles on a much different plane than they currently fight.
Scripture is clear. Our fight is not with each other (Ephesians 6:12). We have a much more serious foe with which to contend. Let’s not waste our time and energy.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]