by Cowboy Bob Sorensen
Despite what many unbelievers seem to think, when people become Christians, they don't have to surrender their humanity. Yes, we make mistakes and have occasional sins in our lives (Heb 12:1, 1 John 1:9), and do many things that everyone else does. That is, we have needs, desires, jobs, eat, drink, breathe, sleep, do some mattress dancing with our spouses, have hobbies, hang around with friends, and so on. We also have people we look up to.
|Image credit: Pixabay / Unsplash|
Who are the Heroes?Anyone can be elevated to hero status among Christians, just like our counterparts in the world. When it someone of "our own kind", people tend to get excited about someone of their own ethnic, religion, sex, age, country, political views, and so on. Some people that Christians elevate include:
- A sports star is very public about his or her faith
- Musicians that mention Jesus favorably, or even make claims to be Christians
- That smooth-talking Rev. Makeya Feelgood on television
- Someone who has videos that have some interesting material and maybe "special" insight that nobody else has
- Your local pastor who really, truly does have something worth hearing
- High-profile ministry leaders
- A friend, family member, or even a social media acquaintance
- Other people that are praised as great Christians, so we get caught up in the excitement
Seems safe to assume that just about everyone knows the pain of being betrayed by a friend. In Christian circles, that betrayal can have varying sources, many of which are not legitimate. A professing Christian betrays your trust, lies about you, steals your property, or something else may happen. Finding out that you have differing views on nonessentials may be challenging, but depending on how serious it is, there is seldom a need to break fellowship. Finding out that someone promotes Bible-denying heresies, well, they need to be avoided and false teachers are to be exposed (John 3:20, Eph. 5:11, 1 John 4:1, Jude 1:4, 2 Peter 2:1, Matt. 7:15-20).
What about those people that we have placed on pedestals? (There are crooks and hypocrites that present a version of Christianity, and we need to exercise righteous judgment, John 7:24, according to Scripture.) Many of them did not ask to be made into heroes. Whether teachers or media figures, they did not die for our sins and bodily rise from the dead (1 Cor. 1:12-13). When criticizing, are we being judgmental? For example, country singer Carrie Underwood has been forthright about her beliefs, and said that she approves of homosexual marriage. Does that maker her bad, or not a Christian, as some have claimed? Although her choice of a liberal "progressive" church is certainly lacking, her stance on that issue does not disqualify her from the body of Christ (Eph. 2:8-9).
I'm on record as saying that I seek glory for God, not glory for Bob, and I've been very reluctant to use my own experiences, but I hope they will help make some points. Family, friends, supporters of The Question Evolution Project and other social media acquaintances sometimes look up to me for spiritual advice, which is biblically rather scary (James 3:1). I've lost friends over my political views, biblical creation science, authority of Scripture, cessationism (which has garnered hostility, and one person's friendship cooled considerably when this view was discovered), and others. There are some views that I have that I do not tell anyone because they are irrelevant, or I have not formed a strong argument for them. What if some of my other beliefs became public? In addition, I've publicly stated that I've done rotten things in my past. What if some of those came to light, whether they were fifteen years ago or fifteen hours ago? Would I lose "followers" and friends? That's up to them as to how they want to judge me, but I hope they would judge according to Scripture (which includes forgiveness, Matt. 18:21-22, Luke 17:3-4, Col. 3:12-13), not legalistically, and not from anger because I don't support a pet nonessential belief. I can't live up to each individual's preconceptions, sorry.
You should see that my experiences are relevant to this article. Just ride up on the hill and get the big picture: Christians need to remember that friends, family, religious celebrities, and so on have differing views. We have no business rejecting them over nonessentials, for violating our traditions and preferences, or by being legalistic (Col. 2:20-23). For that matter, we should not be judging them based on rumors or from the claims of unbelievers.
Wounds of a FriendNow we have to take a fork in the trail toward something that is very important.
Most people don't cotton to getting bad news. What if I told you that popular recording artists Phillips, Craig and Dean have a history of Modalist cult involvement, and their Trinitarian claims are unclear and suspect? Would you disassociate with me? I told someone that Kent Hovind was involved in King James Onlyism (which is legalistic and very divisive), and that friend grew very distant from then on. (For that matter, people put Kent Hovind on a pedestal that is insulting to the rest of creation science, as if he was the only one teaching creation, so they're sure glad to have their hero back, as this image illustrates.) There are times when we feel hurt or even betrayed when a Christian friend informs us that we are following a false teacher or that we need to repent of something. It's our business to watch over each other, and doing it in love.
Christians preach repentance for salvation, and people get mighty riled about that. But we do it because Jesus commands us to (Matt. 28:18-20, Acts 1:8), and because we don't want to see them going to Hell. Similarly, we correct each other so we can hold fast to the truth (1 Thess. 5:11).
It causes me anguish seeing someone I care deeply about getting involved in false teachings or taking a risk at being deceived. Speaking up may cause anger, even when done with gentleness, love, and respect. (There are times when a sharp rebuke is necessary, Mark 16:14, Luke 17:3, 2 Tim. 4:2, Titus 1:3, but we need to be very careful when doing this. But that element is beyond what I am discussing here.) Our guide and authority is the Word of God, and we are to be led by the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
Some professing Christians meddle in occult matters, a topic that the Bible strictly forbids. Here is a podcast on that subject. Someone is liable to be annoyed that I brought that up, but it's because I care!
Are you angry when someone tells you that you need to repent, or that you're riding a trail that can lead to disaster? Even though some may say things to build up their own egos, some of us genuinely care about you.
Also, those of us who are on the receiving end of information and correction should give consideration to what is offered. For those who give the information and it is not accepted, well, maybe we're wrong, maybe the Spirit is not working in that person on that thing at that moment, or something else. No need to be a rattlesnake and strike every time that person walks by. Let God be God.
Still love me?
Lyrics to "It's My Business" are here.