It’s very tempting for believers today to want to call down fire from heaven on those who oppose us and preach what Paul called “another Jesus” and “another gospel”.
When we stop to consider how we should respond to these people, in spite of the fact that it’s become a cliche’, we need to ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” If we can’t come up with an honest answer, then we need to discuss the question with other believers, too. I am wondering if we aren’t responding more like Jesus’ disciples would have, rather than the way Jesus Himself would in the same situation.
A couple days ago I ran across an article linked to the Good News Magazine website, originally at Word Alone.org, which appears to be a Lutheran site. This article really made me stop and think, and so far I haven’t stopped.
Here’s an important excerpt from the article at Word Alone.org:
“The Episcopal sermon, at its most fulsome, begins with a statement to the effect that the incarnation is to be understood as merely a manifestation of divine love. From this starting point, several conclusions are drawn. The first is that God is love pure and simple. Thus, one is to see in Christ’s death no judgment upon the human condition. Rather, one is to see an affirmation of creation and the persons we are. The life and death of Jesus reveal the fact that God accepts and affirms us.
From this revelation, we can draw a further conclusion: God wants us to love one another, and such love requires of us both acceptance and affirmation of the other. From this point we can derive yet another: Accepting love requires a form of justice that is inclusive of all people, particularly those who in some way have been marginalized by oppressive social practice. The mission of the Church is, therefore, to see that those who have been rejected are included – for justice as inclusion defines public policy. The result is a practical equivalence between the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and a particular form of social justice.”
Clearly this liberal theology is an amazing corruption of the True Gospel. As for me, I have a difficult time imagining anybody who holds this theology being what I would consider a true believer. I don’t think I could call him a Christian. But let’s ask the question, “What would Jesus do?”
As we study the Gospels we find that the very harshest words ever recorded which are attributed to our Lord are reserved for the religious leaders who thought they were teaching God’s Law, but were instead teaching a corruption of the Law in the form of men’s traditions. Jesus called the “whitewashed tombs”, clean and bright on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones on the inside. He also taught about people who say to Him “Lord, Lord!” but their hearts are far from Him. And it’s clear from the scriptures that teachers who teach a false gospel and lead people astray will receive greater condemnation. I think we have a pretty good idea how Jesus would respond to such people.
But Jesus looks on the human heart. He knows whether or not a particular person who is teaching a false gospel will eventually come to real faith in Christ, in the same way that the Apostle Paul came to faith in Jesus and renounced the activities of his earlier life when he persecuted the Church.
The Lord doesn’t give us this information, however. We cannot know who will and will not turn in faith to Christ. So, how would Jesus have us respond to these people?
Maybe we have a clue in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 2:
Philippians 2:5-16 NASB
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.”