It seems to me that the majority of Christians fall into one of two categories, each of which miss the mark of Christlikeness. Even when accompanied by admirable ambitions and pure intention, the Christian can easily mar the vision of Christ by throwing themselves whole-heartedly into one of two camps. Those individuals that make up camp one thrive on debate, argument, and controversy, while camp two members are scared of the “uncomfortable,” and thus shy away from any sort of confrontation. And, there doesn’t seem to be much in-between. What’s the balance look like, then?
Beloved debaters….It would be good to heed J. Oswald Sanders warning in his book “Spiritual Leadership.” “…If you would rather pick a fight than solve a problem, do not consider leading the Church. The Christian leader must be genial and gentle, not a lover of controversy.”
However, if you are at all like me, you are wired to hate awkwardness and controversy, thus falling into the second category. In the words of one beloved Master’s college chapel speaker, you hardly ever “drop the bomb” of the gospel because you don’t want others to feel uncomfortable, and you neglect to fight for truth because your scared of the awkward. Likewise, you never confront fellow believers of sin, and you don’t address unspoken dissensions for similar reasons. Let me give a humbling example of my “camp-twoness”:
A few days ago I was up early working on a paper for a summer class. Around 9:00 a.m. there was a knock at the door, to which I responded. Opening the door, I encountered two smiling ladies from the Jehovah’s Witness circle. They were extremely warm and friendly, and I listened attentively to the message that they attempted to communicate to me, all the while waiting for an opportunity and thinking of a way to switch the conversation to Christ. Unfortunately, in the moment, I couldn’t formulate what I thought would be a comfortable transition and so I let the opportunity pass. I accepted their literature, we exchanged pleasantries, and they went their way. I sat back down in my chair discouraged at the missed opportunity to share Christ. I thought….’I’m a graduate of a Bible college, currently studying the Bible at a graduate level, and ultimately pursing ministry as a full-time career…. and I can’t have a simple conversation about Christ with two non-intimidating, friendly ladies?’ Maybe I should pursue a different path?
I tell you all of this, camp two members, because I can certainly identify with you! But the question still stands, “how do you strike the balance?” I won’t act like I have a perfect solution to this modern Christian problem, but I think there are some general principles to be reckoned:
1. We cannot discern the spiritual balance without the help of the Spirit. We must be Spirit filled and sober-minded, “voluntarily surrendering our life to the will of the Spirit.” The Spirit’s permeation of our lives is the key to find the middle ground between the love of controversy and the detriment of fear.
2. Our knowledge of the Scripture as Christians must be better. Enough said. Likewise, we should understand the beliefs of others.
3. We have to focus on how Christ handled confrontation in the gospels, the circumstances that caused him to engage in debate, and his attitude in various situations. Then, emulate it.
Does anyone have any other thoughts or insights on how to strike this balance?