It seems like many years ago, now, when I was a young man and bought an outstanding book on Jesus' life, and his dealing with his own people, entitled Christ the Controversialist. It was written by John R. W. Stott, perhaps the most influential evangelical leader of the twentieth century (according to Scot McKnight). He was a pastor in the Anglican church and a writer of a good number of books. And as one told me recently, he was balanced in a solid, Scriptural way, in a way that is attune to life in his writings. The book is an exposition of John's gospel in places where Jesus makes truth claims about himself. And the wall of opposition he faced.
We live in a world in which Satan is alive and well. Naturally, those whose eyes have been blinded by the god of this age will not readily assent to Jesus' truth claims concerning himself and the gospel, in other words, the uniqueness of Christ and his salvation any more readily than the people did in Jesus' day. We can go a long way in getting rid of unnecessary stumbling blocks and controversy surrounding us. Some of the controversy that surrounds Christians today is not inherent or a part of the true message of the good news of Christ. Indeed, too much so, I'm afraid.
At the same time, there is no way that in any part of life Christians who hold faithful to Jesus and to the message of the gospel are not going to have to meet opposition. We will. And indeed we should speak prophetically into our times and world. This is a message that points to Christ, and in doing so, is really pointing others away from what is not of Christ, all the various pursuits and gods people clamor after. One example: "the American dream." Indeed not all is bad in this "dream", but oftentimes in the way we pursue good things- e.g., Ecclesiastes- we settle for something less than God.
Our message does not cut off much of what the world is interested or involved in. It simply helps people find the true reality and fulfillment of these things in Christ. So that I don't have to retreat from science, or philosophy, or psychology, music, art or any good number of things. I can see them come to life and flourish because of my faith. I can appreciate the good work others do, while seeing what comes into that work at times that is part of the lie which began in the garden.
So we might as well face the fact that we're going to be controversial. I don't want it, but I don't shrink from it. But how I carry that is all important. Do I do so in the humility, meekness and love of Jesus, or do I do it out of my own pride and in impatience with others? We must be ready for controversy, yet seek to win people with our lives and words. That others might see Jesus in and among us, as God's people, and be led to him.
What would you like to add on this? What do you think about controversy?