Monday, November 21, 2011

Loyal Opposition

Yesterday I learned that a person who had caused me no small amount of grief at a previous ministry was experiencing the same grief from some of his former cronies. My initial reaction was vindication and a certain amount of glee to see someone get what they so richly deserved… yeah I know I’m human!

My second thought was “Wait this person is a believer and I shouldn’t be rejoicing over his suffering I should be praying for him.”

For most of our country’s history, members of the opposing party in congress were referred to as members of the loyal opposition. When new congressional members came into office and referred to the opposition as the enemy they were gently corrected by elder congressmen that the members of other party were the opposition not the enemy. Just because someone didn’t agree with you didn’t mean that they were not trying to do the right thing or make him or her an enemy.

That trend seems to have changed in recent years. Congressmen from all parties routinely cast the opposition as villains out to destroy democracy, kill babies or older people, or in the very least the USA. Unfortunately this tendency has leached over into the church, where political agendas have often taken over the driver seat. And we no longer give the opposition the benefit of the doubt about their agenda. They are the enemy!

We have come to believe that if they aren’t with us then they are the enemy and must be destroyed (or at the very least driven out of the church). Now let me be the first to say that the Bible seems to indicate that in addition to those who follow Christ and those who don’t, there is another way of classifying people. Scripture teaches us that there wise, foolish, and evil (or wicked) people. These three classifications are clearly seen in numerous passages found in the book of Proverbs. Here are just a few:

Wisdom comes from God A wise man is a righteous man.

Proverbs 1:5 (NIV)
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance--

Proverbs 1:7 (NIV)
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Proverbs 2:6 (NIV)
6 For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Proverbs 4:6 (NIV)
6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.

Proverbs 9:9 (NIV)
9 Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.

Foolish people won’t listen to reason

Proverbs 1:22 (NIV)
22 "How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?

Proverbs 10:8 (NIV)
8 The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.

Proverbs 12:15 (NIV)
15 The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 14:9 (NIV)
9 Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright.

Proverbs 14:16 (NIV)
16 A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless.

Proverbs 23:9 (NIV)
9 Do not speak to a fool, for he will scorn the wisdom of your words. 

Evil is the absence of righteousness and bent on doing harm

Proverbs 2:14 (NIV)
14 who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,

Proverbs 4:16 (NIV)
16 For they cannot sleep till they do evil; they are robbed of slumber till they make someone fall.

Proverbs 6:14 (NIV)
14 who plots evil with deceit in his heart-- he always stirs up dissension.

Proverbs 10:29 (NIV)
29 The way of the LORD is a refuge for the righteous, but it is the ruin of those who do evil.

Proverbs 16:6 (NIV)
6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil.

So when a man sees the error of his way and goes about making amends that man is wise. When his former friends attack him for doing the right thing they have to fall into one of the remaining two categories. I’ll let God decide which category they belong in.

As for those who try to follow Christ and his way God says to rejoice when we suffer for doing right! (Matthew 5:10; 1 Peter 2:10 & 3:17)

In the mean time, I’m praying for this man and rejoicing that he is a wise person!

Still learning wisdom

Pastor Val

My thanks to Media Dagger for their brilliant cartoon!