Following Christ Makes You A Controversial Figure

I was present at a meeting a few years ago when a prominent pastor and teacher was introduced to speak on a controversial subject. This in itself ought to make the headlines, since many of our pastors would rather be caught robbing a bank than facing any vital issue these days. The person who gave the introduction said that this pastor was sometimes regarded as a controversial figure, but he was regarded universally as a man of integrity and courage. Then I began to raise some questions within myself about the whole subject of controversy. The first question was, what kind of questions could a person deal with which are not controversial? How many things can a person talk about without risking the possibility of a difference of opinion? And if there is a difference of opinion, the result is controversy. We might discuss the weather, but even there we find some like it hot and some like it cold. How about Heaven? The nice thing about that subject is that nobody can prove much. Maybe you went to see the new movie, “Heaven is for Real” or read the best-selling book where this is the subject, and the boy and his family is labeled controversial. Still there are many people with rather strong ideas about the subject, and they differ with each other. Since nearly everything these days has a controversial slant to it, maybe the best thing to do is become “on the one hand, and on the other” kind of Christ followers. You know the type. They are described by a listener who said he was not quite sure what the person was trying to say, but that they seemed dedicated to the idea of not offending anyone. Even here, however, the results are not always salutary and safe. The person in the middle so often gets thrown at by both sides. Then I asked myself another question. Is the Gospel noncontroversial? Jesus did not find it so; neither did Paul, Peter or the other Apostles. Of course they were all living in pagan environments, while we live in a country where a majority considers itself “Christian.” However Martin Luther found a number of the brethren of his day who did not see eye to eye with him, and John Wesley faced mobs that made him long for safety of a den of lions. I look around me at the contemporary leaders in the Church, today. It seems every one of them is under fire from one source or another and most of them have walked through dark valleys of opposition during most of their ministry. So I came to a conclusion. To be a Christ Follower means to be a controversial figure. To be a Pastor means to be a controversial figure. And if any person refers to you or me as a noncontroversial figure, I would hope that we would demand an apology. May God deliver us from the weak, good feeling, entertainment-based Christianity, of our age and give us the courage to rejoice when living or speaking out our beliefs draw fire. And may we be able to do all this in LOVE. Grace and peace, Pastor Bob+

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