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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

We Need More Apologists and Fewer Apologizers

Naughty Us Syndrome

I don’t know how I managed to become a Christian. Listening to a lot of Christians these days, we’re apparently a horrifying group of people who have a need to constantly apologize (while self-flagellating). Often that takes the form of apologizing on behalf of other Christians. I was also a member of a group that was a focus of some of the apologizing.

In fact, my delay in finally succumbing to the glorious truth of the gospel of the free grace of God was, in part, delayed by one of the most popular apologizers. While attending a Christian festival, I was affirmed in my errors by this big-name “Christian leader” (another phrase I can’t stand). And he poured on the angry apologizing, much to the joy of the crowd. I call this tendency “Naughty Us!” Syndrome. It feels good, but we’re not called to do it. We’re called to be witnesses to the truth.

That speaker did owe me an apology; an apology for not telling me the truth... for affirming me in my error... but, worst of all, for making me think that obedient Christians who spoke the truth in love to me owed me an apology too. I’m thankful God had mercy on me and allowed the seed planted by his faithful servants to come to fruition.

You’re Not Brave, You Know

These apologizers are often called “brave.” They’re not brave at all. They’ll get accolades from every corner and those who disagree with their approach are in no position to cause these people any discomfort. Want the media to love you? Want the world to love you? You want to be praised by non-Christians from every corner? Start angrily apologizing on behalf of other Christians or a generic “church.” You’ll be the world’s hero. But you’re not brave.

The church of this present age is the Lord’s. We are his ambassadors. We endeavor to “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15). How we perform on both ends is for the Lord to judge and for us to evaluate in ourselves. Being angry at other Christians as you affirm people in their lifestyle or error addresses neither speaking the truth nor loving others. If we love others, we will speak the truth, and that truth involves sin, justice, sacrifice, sound doctrine, scripture, faith and grace.
Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls.
To be sure, part of being a Christian is the ability to apologize, but that never involves apologizing for the truth. Humility? Yes. Patience? Absolutely. But I have no calling to apologize for anyone else who is not under my charge.

We Need More Apologists

I see a lot of apologizers, but what we need today are more apologists. We need faithful men (2 Tim 2:2). We need those who will earnestly contend for the faith (Jude 3). We need those who will search the scriptures (Acts 17:11), test all things (1 Thess 5:21), compare scripture with scripture and study to show themselves approve unto God (2 Tim 2:15).

Kindness, compassion, charity, patience, long-suffering and gentleness are not mutually exclusive to faithfulness. Carrying a sign, self-flagellating and apologizing on behalf of a caricature of true Christianity is not an act of love, it is an act of selfishness.
My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

This can be a rather large topic, but for my purpose here, I leave us with this... people need to hear the truth. If someone has been wronged by a false Christianity (someone telling another the truth is not a “wrong”), we don’t need to apologize for that false Christianity, we need to correct it. We speak the truth in love.

I’m thankful for those who spoke the truth in love with me. Those who challenged my beliefs. Those who spoke scripture into my life. They made me uncomfortable. They made me look honestly at my life and my beliefs. I knew some apologizers too. They made me feel good. They helped assuage my conviction. In other words, they only managed to drive me away from the only message that holds the answer the hurting and lost need, the answer I needed.

He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward Than he who flatters with the tongue.

I promise you this, if you affirm people in their sin and/or false doctrines, you will not drive them to the gospel, but you may inoculate them against it. We all need the scripture, for in it is the only hope to know salvation from sin and death (2 Tim 3:15). If you are ashamed of the gospel (cp Rom 1:16), apologize for yourself. But don’t apologize to me, apologize to the one who has commissioned us to be his witnesses unto the truth.

Sheep are not usually lauded by wolves. If wolves are calling you brave and giving you glory, one of two things is most likely true: you’re either going to end up a meal if you ever do tell them the truth or you’re a wolf yourself. Let us all examine ourselves to see that we are truly of the faith (2 Cor 13:5).

It’s easy to speak boldly when you know you will be praised for it. It’s quite another thing to speak boldly when you know they will hate you, beat you, and cast you out.

[Pray] for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.