Reflecting on “Controversy” – Post 4 – If You Can’t Deal With It, Don’t Be a Christian

I know the more sensitive title would have been like, “You may find the Christian life difficult at times if you do not adequately understand or can deal with the never-ending controversies of life.” While it’s all true, it’s a lame blog title.

So here we go – The Christian life is riddled with controversy. I suppose it starts with the audacious claim of the resurrection. I mean we are talking about a dead man who claimed to be God and came back to life and promised all His followers this same resurrected life. Even worse, true Christ followers actually believe this is true.

In fairness, most people in the West today don’t consider this to be controversial anymore but in the first century, believing that the resurrected Jesus was the son of God could get you killed. Today, you can believe in just about anything so long as it does not infringe on another’s rights. Of course, we cannot say the same for other parts of the world.

Today, in the West, we have different controversies, separation of church and state, religious freedom, gay versus traditional marriage, abortion, and the list goes on. My argument is that because the nature of Christian belief and conviction is always tied into the public square, the Christian will never be able to avoid controversy.

In thinking about this, the following questions naturally surface, “Where is the balance of being bold and being controversial?” “Where is the line between being prophetic and unfairly using “shock value?” “Where is the line of not fighting every battle and not engaging in those that are necessary?”

And that’s the real motivation behind this little series. I find that too many of us go out of our way to avoid the entanglements of controversy. Worse, if controversies are always personal (to someone), this becomes the near equivalent of the priest and the Levite crossing the road to not touch the beaten man in the story of the Good Samaritan.

Most of us prefer the path of least resistance and generally if we are a part of a controversy, we tend to choose to be the instigators of it as opposed to being confronted by it. I suspect this is due to our desire to be in control. But the Christian life contains a moral expectation, communal accountability and is rooted in the followership and imitation of its central figure. Thus, controversy becomes part of the deal.

That does not mean that we should instigate controversy, fuel it or foolishly create it. Bad examples would include Pat Robertson (who believes any news is good news), Fred Phelps (who I do not identify as a faithful Christian; nor do I consider his mob to be a church), and that old guy who kept predicting the end of the world (I only wish I could forget the name Harold Camping) or some blogs that bluntly ask, “What do you think of gay marriage?” Regarding the latter, it’s good that we’re having this conversation online, the problem is that some are only having the conversation online. It’s a different conversation when we you are actually looking someone in the eye versus typing at your screen.

Finally, while we cannot be involved in every controversy, it does mean that we should do our part to confront the controversies that come into our paths. If we cannot, it seems to point at a lack of faith on our part and that should create alarm.

The type of controversy that I support is when we sincerely and lovingly try to stand for the common good for God and others. It’s been my experience that the better of these moments happen in conversation and community. I hope we as Christ-followers can defuse some of the cultural tension, clarity to confront the hype, peace to overcome the anger and wisdom to move us toward redemption.

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