Red Flag


I came across this meme on Facebook this morning.

I have seen and heard this and other thoughts like it, posted and shared around social media. While there is some truth to it, I don’t think it is very helpful. In fact, I think that it is more wrong than right.

The Church is the body of Christ. As Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15), we Christians are supposed to be visible images of the invisible God. I know, Christians are not perfect (understatement of the year). Christians are no less capable of hurting people than anyone else. We are never going to be perfect at incarnating the love of Jesus to those around us. But that is what we are to be striving towards. Jesus said that the world will know we are His disciples when we love one another in the same way that He has loved us (John 13:34-35). When we hurt people to the point that they lose their faith in God, the undeniable fact is that we have utterly failed at our mission.

This kind of thinking rationalizes that we have no real culpability in a person’s walking away from God because they were hurt. I know I say it often (but if we can repeat worship choruses over and over, certainly its kosher for me to repeat this over and over)—when we rationalize we are telling ourselves rational
lies.

This statement, in my opinion, is not very loving. Nor is it humble. Paul says in Romans 12:18 (NIV), If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Jesus was even stronger:

If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where

‘the worms that eat them do not die,
and the fire is not quenched.’
Everyone will be salted with fire.

Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other (Mark 9:43, NIV).

To my palate, this thought tastes more like an “elder brother salt substitute” (Luke 15:28-30) than real salt.

Last, it distances ourselves from the person who has given up. It trivializes their pain. It implies that they are—to us—too stupid to see the truth. That is the judgement being passed is it not? The prodigal son in Luke 15 was “too stupid” to see the love of his father, but that did not stop his father from leaving home and going out on the road looking for him. Jesus pursues broken people even when they are not pursuing Him. We need to do the same. Anything that encourages us to have the thought, “the loss of so-and-so’s faith is acceptable because their faith was obviously in people rather than God,” says more about what is wrong in the one thinking it, than it does about the person it is said about. As the saying goes, when you point your finger at someone else, you have three fingers pointed back at you.

9 Comments

  1. I’m with you there! This meme is what I sometimes call “technically correct” but not really true. It’s true, if we place our eyes on Christ and keep our faith in Him, we can’t go wrong. If we’re too busy seeking the favor and approval of people, it’s going to make us more vulnerable. But yes, I think we, as the church, also have an obligation to reach out to those people who have been harmed and to take responsibility. Instead we say terrible things trying to justify bad behavior, like, “well, if your faith was just stronger.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right. I like your description, technically correct but not really true. To that point, just because something is true does not make it the right truth to speak at the moment. You can do a lot of damage by telling the right truth at the wrong time. A wise guy once said, there is a time for everything under heaven… Which of course implies that there are also wrong times for everything under heaven.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a really good point, timing is everything and God deals with us as individuals depending on our circumstances and what’s in our hearts. Some people have been treated pretty shabbily by the church and some have walked away for other reasons.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with you, Dan, that we should not let an offense come between two Christians and cause them to neglect or turn their backs on one another. This is wrong through and through. Jesus tells us many times that we must reconcile with others, even saying that it is more important to reconcile than to bring Him an offering.

    At the same time, I believe we must rise above being offended. Taking offense with what someone else does is just my flesh getting all worked up. But I am supposed to crucify the flesh, and if I do that, offenses will bounce off me like rain off a ducks back. This is something I work on all the time. and iif I find myself offended, I go to that person and talk to them. That is the only means of correction there is.

    We need to strive for the type of love found in ! Cor 13:4-7. When we live that, we live a full life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. We will be learning that until we get to heaven I expect, no? I am all for tough love, I am just against being tough in the name of love. If our love is more costly to them than to us, it ain’t love. =)

      Liked by 1 person

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