Saturday, June 14, 2008

Conflict Avoidance: Virtue or Vice?

Many Christians today are way too obsessed with worrying about offending sinners with the true Gospel. They'll do anything and everything to keep from "offending" sinners. In some churches, the gospel has been transformed into a fairytale that I am convinced the Apostle Paul would call "another gospel."

There are pastors out there who portray God to be some sort of cosmic tooth fairy; or perhaps a divine Santa Clause that bears little resemblance to the God of the Bible. They preach a Jesus who doesn't call men to repentance. Instead, they preach a Jesus who's out to get everyone to hold hands and sing Kumbaya.

Is the modern obsession with avoiding conflict with the world really a virtue? Or is it a vice?

R.C. Sproul has written:

Martin Luther once remarked that whenever the gospel is preached in its purity, it engenders conflict and controversy. We live in an age that abhors controversy, and we are prone to avoid conflict. How dissimilar this atmosphere is from that which marked the labor of Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles. The prophets were immersed in conflict and controversy precisely because they would not accommodate the Word of God to the demands of a nation caught up in syncretism. The apostles were engaged in conflict continuously. As much as Paul sought to live peaceably with all men, he found rare moments of peace and little respite from controversy. (Willing to Believe, pp. 19-20)

I know it's common for us to look at the book of Acts and think "oh, if we could just be a church like that," but do we really want to be that kind of church?

Sure, we may desire to see large numbers of conversions and perhaps even a few miracles, but what about the conflict that came along with it?

What about the riots? What about the persecution? The Martyrdom?

Can we really be like the church in Acts and expect everything to be hunky-dory?

Do we honestly believe we're better -or any less expendable- than the prophets and apostles?

I believe that most of the downgrade in American society is mainly due to the fact that the church has lost it's influence. The Church Militant has decided to become a bunch of sissified pacifists. The salt has lost most of its savor. The light has been eclipsed by the bushel of compromise.

Instead of fulfilling it's mandate to preach the gospel to sinners and disciple the nations, the modern church is too busy trying to cater to them. Many churches have only one thing in mind: making the Christian faith more palatable to the sinner in order to grow larger and larger.

To answer the question I posed above: I believe the modern church's obsession with avoiding conflict at expense of the truth is a vice, and certainly not a virtue!

Please understand, I'm not advocating being obnoxious. I'm not calling for Christians to be inhospitable to the lost. Rather, I'm calling for ministers to preach repentance and faith; for Christians to declare the whole council of God in our homes, our local churches, and in the civil sphere. I'm calling for Christians to once again consider what glorifies God in a worship service, instead of what entertains sinners.

If we do these things, we'll probably see some conflict, but with the conflict, we might just see a great revival.

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