Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mistaken Perception

Mistaken Perception

When Jesus used righteous indignation to clean out the temple and presented anger at what the Jews had made of His “Father’s house” (John 2), some people think He should have never gotten angry and especially shouldn’t have expressed such anger in public, and that John should not have used a public media to circulate this behavior in public. But, that is a perception that is quite mistaken. There are appropriate times to deal firmly and with anger even in public. “Be angry and sin not” (Eph.4:28) shows that not all anger is sinful of itself. Sometimes it is wrong NOT to get angry.

When Paul wrote his rebuking letter to the church at Corinth, and he had good reason to rebuke them and call them spiritual babes, there are some today who seem to think that such behavior in Christians is out of place and should not be aired publicly. He wrote because he loved their souls and hoped that they would take the rebuke in the right manner. Some perceive that it is never appropriate to write on publicly accessible media things that expose error that otherwise have a free reign in that media. Some think that such a letter as Paul wrote to Corinth and Galatia should be handled only in private. God guided Paul to write these letters and approved the passion of Paul’s rebuke. God also approved of Paul’s open rebuke of Peter. Perception that such should never be done publicly is not correct, else Paul should have only dealt privately with Peter and Barnabas and should not have written about it. See Galatians 2. Some would perceive that to be poor behavior and very “unloving”, while the truth is that Jesus and Paul’s actions were displays of real love.

Sometimes perception is very mistaken. Looking at the externals of these events is not pleasant, and sometimes we get mistakenly angry at people who express anger for ANY reason including those who really have justifiable reason to rebuke firmly and publicly. All anger and all words of rebuke and correction are not wrong. There are times when it is right and calculated. As Paul wrote the rebuking words of the first letter to the Corinthians he was aware that they could be childish and choose to take it in the wrong way. God was not embarrassed about making this case public. Paul was not mean, and he was not being a bully, and he was very concerned with how some might chose to perceive of this letter. But, he was right. He was glad that they chose to take his words in the right way and with godly sorrow chose the way of correction and repentance. See 2 Corinthians 7.

We live in a time of a very misinformed culture and many very misinformed churches filled with people who are not truly yoked to Jesus and thereby learning from Him, else they would have their senses exercised to discern the place for the firmer side of love that possesses and expresses righteous indignation at sin and hardened hearts. There are times to be sensitive and gentle and compassionate, and there are proper times to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather EXPOSE them”(Eph.5:11). There are times to rebuke “before all”(Gal.2) and to “mark those who teach contrary to the doctrine” we learned from the inspired apostles (Rom.16:17). There are times when the sin is public that the rebuke or exposure needs to have the same venues and avenues to be heard as the error gets. We need to choose those times carefully, and measure it with righteousness, fairness, and love. But, we do not need to become so sensitive that we allow error to have free reign in public media, and try to make modern public rebuke sinful or to posit that public correction of error is wrong. That would be placing a standard on modern teaching that would, by necessary inference, make Jesus and Paul into sinners who pushed people around in sinful ways. That is simply a perception that is mistaken.

Instead of being so unapproving of those who correct public error in the same medium that the error is pushed publicly, I would like to see those who believe it is wrong to ever do this, to show that their way of not ever correcting wrong is better. I have never seen the superiority of the way of letting public error go unchallenged and uncorrected. There are many times when going private HAS been done by this writer, and still the teacher of error kept right on publicly teaching their error. When all private effort has been ignored and the teaching of error continues on public media, then it is only right to use the same medium to expose the error. It would be wrong not to. Any other perception is simply mistaken because it makes Jesus and Paul sinners. -Terry W. Benton