Article of the Month

May 2015

"WE and THEY",


 "US and THEM"

Sometimes, in our present imperfect state of reasoning, we long for the ideal and, therefore, cannot deal with the real.  It is not bad that we should wish for a situation in which no one is critical of anyone else — a situation in which criticism is both unnecessary and unbecoming.  But the fact is, the world (at the moment) is not like that.  Not to be critical or discerning implies that there is something wrong with us.  But that does not mean that we should be irritatingly critical with the intent of harming others.


It seems that people often think that when we say something unflattering about other cultures or beliefs, that there is something wrong with us.  But we, as disciples of Christ, know that our criticism sometimes is timely and correct.  After all, did not Jesus, the Apostles, and even God, Himself hurl criticisms at behaviors and concepts contrary to the truths they, themselves, possessed and valued?  Indeed, they did!


However, and this is IMPORTANT, the criticisms were never meant to hurt the individuals who were being criticized.  Indeed, the criticisms were meant, in either the short term or long term, TO BE HELPFUL.  The suppression of truth and the suppression of the criticism of bad behavior is philosophically, religiously, socially, politically, and personally an unconscionable thing.  (Hebrews 1:9)


Should it be considered in poor taste to criticize that part of Islam which wants to dominate the world — to subject everyone to ITS concepts of right and wrong?  Should it be considered in poor taste to criticize those who behead and burn alive those whom they consider to be infidels?  Of course not!  If their god is, indeed, god (which he isn’t), is he not able to impose his order of things by his own power, rather than by the terrorism of his adherents?  If not, who would ever want to worship him?


Islam, of course, is the current focus of world attention.  But can we not be equally critical of a Christendom which tried the same tactics in the Inquisition?  Can we not be critical of Naziism and Communism, which inflicted unbelievable horrors upon their populations?  Can we not even be critical of lesser wrongs by governments and religions which claim higher principles?  Indeed, we can.  BUT — and this again is important — CRITICISM FOR THE POINT OF CRITICISM is not the place of a Christian.  A Christian must criticize Biblical doctrinal error; but criticism and crusades against the practices of others is not our place now.  The promised Kingdom will SOLVE all of these problems.  Our current concern is to conform OURSELVES to the standards of Scripture by which we are being developed and judged.



The Point


Both in and out of the fellowship of true Christians, it probably will become more and more difficult to state truths which may be critical of the beliefs of others.   If we make a clear and Scriptural defense of a concept which we believe to be true, many may look at us with contempt, virtually saying, “You miserably narrow person!  How do you dare to say something critical about the sincere beliefs of others?”

This will be unfortunate because it is tantamount to saying, “You idiot!  Do you really believe that you have truth over what others possess?”  In essence, having the concept that something like absolute truth EVEN EXISTS is becoming to be viewed as the equivalent of being a poor, uneducated, and unsympathetic fool.  But the Kingdom will take care of this problem.  OUR GOD is able in love, mercy, and generosity, to bring all the world around to His goodness.  He will not terrorize; He will bless!  And “all the families of the earth” will voluntarily, and with great joy, be blessed by the arrangement.  (Genesis 22:15)



“You-They” Comparisons


It may well have escaped the notice of many Christians that God’s messages to the seven historical periods of the Church (Revelation, Chapters 2 and 3) regularly DISTINGUISH between the faithful and the apostate simply by using words like “you” versus “them.”


Toward the Ephesus period of Church history (A.D. 33-70), for example, it states, “I know YOUR deeds…and YOU found THEM to be false.”  (Revelation 2:2)


In the message to Smyrna (A.D. 70-313), it says, “I know YOUR tribulation…and the blasphemy by THOSE who…are a synagogue of Satan.”  (Revelation 2:9)


To Pergamum (A.D. 313-1160), the contrast is “YOU hold fast My name…but…you have there SOME who hold the teaching of Balaam.”  (Revelation 2:13, 14)


In the Thyatira period (A.D. 1160-1371), there is the favored group, “I know…YOUR love…,” and the unfavored group, “I will cast HER…and THOSE…into great tribulation.”  (Revelation 2:19, 22)

We will not continue the list.  But the objective in consulting these chapters is to see that Jesus DISTINGUISHES clearly and CRITICIZES soundly those who are his versus those whose doctrine and behavior are erroneous.  IT IS NOT a Christian concept that we be without discernment or its expression. 

(See Romans 16:17-20.)


It is curious that those who might criticize us for being critical ARE CRITICIZING us!  Is there not a little of hypocrisy involved in this dichotomy?  While admonishing that we make no difference among men, their beliefs, and their cultures, these critics DO make a difference toward us.  This, of course, is the point of this month’s article.  We live in a world which HAS NO ANSWERS.  It has no consistencies; it has few standards other than the trends of the moment.  There ARE no solutions now, but there will be once the prayed-for Kingdom arrives.  Meanwhile, faithful Christians will witness to TRUTHS for those who WISH TO HEAR.  But we will not EXPECT conversions, solutions, or even reasoned responses.  Nor will we harm those who see matters differently.






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