Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Harmony at any cost?


Was thinking about Jesus warning the Church in Thyatira about tolerating what they should not tolerate (Revelation 2:18-29). Tolerance and harmony are buzz words today that sound good and often are good. Terms like conflict and confrontation are frowned upon. When those hit the scene they are like villains and the super heroes of tolerance and harmony are sure to arrive to save the day! Not so fast.

Two of today's biggest false idols are tolerance and harmony in the name of throwing "truth" to the wind. Tolerance and harmony are not always good. Conflict and confrontation is not always bad. The key to navigating these waters is the pursuit of "truth" and "love".

Adrian Rogers put it this way:

      It is better to be divided by truth than united in error;
      it is better to speak truth that hurts and then heals than to speak a lie;
      it is better to be hated for telling the truth than to be loved for telling a lie;
      it is better to stand alone with truth than to be wrong with the multitude.
      The religion of today is 'get-alongism'.
      It is time for men and women of God to stand, even if they have to stand alone.

John MacArthur adds this insight:

      “I think that it is so important to know this. In a time like this of tolerance, listen, false teaching will always cry intolerance. It will always say you are being divisive, you are being unloving, you are being ungracious, because it can only survive when it doesn’t get scrutinized. So it cries against any intolerance. It cries against any examination, any scrutiny—just let’s embrace each other; let’s love each other; let’s put all that behind us.

      False doctrine cries the loudest about unity. Listen carefully when you hear the cry for unity, because it may be the cover of false doctrine encroaching. If ever we should follow 1 Thessalonians 5, and examine everything carefully, it’s when somebody is crying unity, love, and acceptance.”

Phil Johnson contributes this perspective:

      “… in a postmodern world where doubt has been canonized as a virtue, any sort of strong conviction is going to be dismissed as "arrogant."

Since truth by its nature divides, conflict and confrontation can be one of the results. That does not mean we should create unwarranted conflict. To the contrary. The Apostle Paul wrote: Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:17-18.

We should desire to live in peace. We should also not be surprised that when we hold to "truth" (even in "love") there will be conflict because we are imperfect people in what is an imperfect world. Truth is not popular. A.W. Tozer made the point that there is one place in our society where there is no conflict, no confrontation, no friction and instead tolerance and harmony. The place? The cemetery!

Harmony at any cost? If the cost is truth then the price is too high. And to abandon truth would certainly not be loving. Here is more from A.W...

In Jesus name,



The Church: Harmony at Any Cost

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. --1 Peter 5:8

Some misguided Christian leaders feel that they must preserve harmony at any cost, so they do everything possible to reduce friction. They should remember that there is no friction in a machine that has been shut down for the night. Turn off the power, and you will have no problem with moving parts. Also remember that there is a human society where there are no problems--the cemetery. The dead have no differences of opinion. They generate no heat, because they have no energy and no motion. But their penalty is sterility and complete lack of achievement.

What then is the conclusion of the matter? That problems are the price of progress, that friction is the concomitant of motion, that a live and expanding church will have a certain quota of difficulties as a result of its life and activity. A Spirit-filled church will invite the anger of the enemy.

A.W. Tozer

This World: Playground or Battleground?, p112-113.