When the fool is struck by the Word, those with understanding will understand and beware (Pro. 19:25). The lost have seen plenty of capitulation and flip-flopping all around them. What often sets them back, awakening them to grace, is seeing men and women of God stand with conviction for the whole counsel of God without getting red in the face for those portions of Leviticus about shell-fish. The world has seen plenty of cowardice, perhaps it is waiting for Christians who are actually courageous to believe, live, and declare the Word with boldness.
In the years that I’ve been writing publicly, a common contention is that pointing out and knocking down certain worldly viewpoints might be hurtful to people. The frequent rebuff I’ve seen is that Christians are supposed to be loving, not judgy and all that. Or some keyboard warrior will ask, “Why did you pick a fight on this or that issue, shouldn’t Christians be Gospel centered?”
Confronting some cultural nonsense, whether in the church or outside it, will often earn you the chiding of other Christians implying that you need to be more gracious, sweet, and kind. I’d like to address some of these objections, showing why we need twice the courage and half the niceness.
First of all, too often claiming to be “Gospel-centered” has become an excuse to confine the Gospel to the size and scope of a linen closet. You’re not gospel-centered if you’re embarrassed by the Gospel as it is found in Leviticus, or in the hard sayings of Christ, or in the biting rhetoric of the Prophets, or in the salty stories of Judges. To be Gospel-centered actually requires us to be Bible-centered. We must read and receive the whole book.
You can think that John 3:16 is the only verse you need to hop up and down on, but even there, in that famous verse, Jesus clearly lays out the consequences of not believing in the only begotten Son: you will perish. Jesus seems to be implying, trigger warning, that outside of faith in Him there is no meaningful life.
It does no good to be Gospel-centered with an impotent Gospel. The Gospel of Christ is that He demands the whole of your life, your neighbor’s life, and Saudi Arabia’s life. He is Lord of all the earth. It all belongs to Christ. He has commanded us to disciple the nations, not coax them to join our religious LARPing club. Our Gospel is to the whole world, for the whole world.
The Godly Virtue of Picking Fights
Others object that picking a fight, by writing on a controversial topic (which I have been known to do), doesn’t seem very grace-filled. This all depends on if you define grace Biblically, or if you have had it defined for you by the sort of books with the author’s face taking up 90% of the front cover. Grace is proclaiming that God looks upon those in Christ with favor, having forgiven them all their sins. Grace is not molly-coddling folly or sin. Numerous examples of Prophets & Apostles, let alone our Lord Jesus, show that picking a fight can be the most godly course of action. Through these instances of godly fights, we see God’s grace displayed to sinners.