Avoiding controversy, at face value, seems like something that every Christian should pursue at all costs. However when avoiding controversy causes us to compromise what we believe and deny the truths that God has revealed to us in His Word, it may be time to re-evaluate our commitment to that which we say we believe.
Denying the Truth
Peter was a disciple who loved the Lord. In his mind, he thought his commitment to Jesus was never ending. In Matthew Chapter 26, Jesus and His disciples were eating the Passover meal. Knowing that He was about to be betrayed, Jesus told His disciples that one of them was going to turn against Him.
In Matthew 26:33, Peter assures Jesus that he will remain by His side even if all the others fall away. In Matthew 26:35 Peter tells Jesus, “even if I have to die with you, I will not betray you”.
We should do all we can to avoid controversy and remain at peace with those around us. However when seeking peace and avoiding controversy places a demand on me to deny the truth that God has placed in my heart, I cannot allow myself to be separated from that truth.
I’m sure Peter’s heart was in the right place. I’m sure he wanted to show Jesus that He was fully committed to Him. But later in the story, under the pressure of public scrutiny, Peter wilted to the point of cursing while vehemently denying that he even knew Jesus (Matthew 26:74).
Unfortunately there are still places in the world today where our brothers and sisters in Christ are being put to death for revealing their association with Jesus Christ. I thank my God daily that I live in a society where I can worship the Lord without persecution.
Avoiding controversy within the Church
In the US, the chances of you standing trial and being killed for your association with Jesus are non-existent. But within the church world, there is persecution going on. Controversial issues like homosexuality within the church, tithing, speaking in tongues, the “Prosperity Gospel”, faith healing by the laying on of hands, and the positive confession of scripture among other topics have caused some Christians who believe in such practices to shrink back out of fear of ostracism from their own brothers and sisters in Christ.
While we won’t be put to death for believing in these practices, the same fear, to a much lesser degree is causing the same separation from God among Christians that Peter had to endure.
What do you believe and why do you believe it?
I’ve always been a believer that the beliefs we hold must be put through the fire in order to remain relevant in our lives. It’s not about questioning authority. It’s not about being rebellious. It’s about knowing what you believe, knowing why you believe what you believe, and standing by what you believe.
As a young person, one of the things that kept me away from church for years was the fact that no one could give me an answer for why they believed what they believed. I saw the church as place filled with robotic, zombie-like people who conducted themselves based on centuries old principles that no one understood.
It wasn’t until I crossed paths with a spiritual mentor who encouraged me to pray and dig into the scriptures for myself for answers as to how to live the Christian life on a practical daily basis that I was able to discern and develop positive relationships with other Christians.
Avoiding controversy can separate us from the truth
Jesus was the most controversial person of biblical times. We have the benefit of hindsight and can see that although Peter wanted to be fully committed, in his heart he wasn’t there yet. Peter’s lack of heartfelt commitment caused him to wilt and separate himself from that which he knew to be truth.
The bible tells us to seek peace and pursue it (1 Peter 3:11). I believe we should do all we can to avoid controversy and remain at peace with those around us. However when seeking peace and avoiding controversy places a demand on me to deny the truth that God has placed in my heart, I cannot allow myself to be separated from that truth.
If you are like Peter and have publically followed Jesus only so far in your attempts at avoiding the more controversial aspects of the Christian life I encourage you to spend some time in prayer and the study of God’s Word. Re-evaluate what you believe and why you believe it. During this process some of your beliefs may or may not be challenged.
Leave your prayer closet with the conviction to stand by your beliefs, whatever they may be. Commit wholeheartedly to God and His Word. As you become more committed to your beliefs, the bounds of persecution will have less and less of an effect on you.