I happened to catch the news last night, and one particular story caught my attention. A police chase ended when a burglar crashed his car into a minivan containing a mother and child. My reaction was, “Look at the harm this criminal caused to innocent bystanders!”
The reporters asked for a statement from the father/grandfather of the woman and child. He said, “[The crash] could have easily resulted in death for both of them…I’ve been against chases because of the collateral damage that I’ve seen through the years” (source).
Wait, did I hear that right? It is the fault of the police that a burglar crashed into a minivan? When did we stop blaming the lawbreakers for the consequences of their foolish actions? When did we start reprimanding our protectors for chasing down criminals?
The police are now having to defend themselves for chasing down a criminal, for doing their job. The police stated plainly, “Unfortunately we cannot control how a suspect drives and whether a suspect is able to see traffic ahead of him.” In other words, the police can’t stop a criminal from making foolish decisions. And neither should they be blamed for them.
Often times when false teaching creeps into a congregation, the one who chases it down is blamed for the dwindling membership which so often follows. What is the outcome of that blame game?
- A church that tries to cover up false teaching rather than expose it.
- A church that tries to ignore sin rather than repent of it.
- A church that allows false teachers to creep in among them as long as they aren’t too obvious about it.
All these follow because nobody wants to be the one who gets blamed. As we avoid the blame, however, we allow the flock of God to be torn apart by wolves in wool sweaters. That is wrong.
God commands us to actively expose sin and false teaching in our congregations (Eph. 5:11). You aren’t keeping the peace by ignoring it, you are letting a deadly infection grow beneath the surface (2 Tim. 2:16-18). The ones who call out sin and stand firmly against it are not the problem, they are guarding the flock of God (Acts 20:26-32). Those who set aside their own desires to fight for and serve the church of Christ ought to be held in high regard (Phil. 2:29-30). Encourage those who stand and teach the truth, especially when it is not received well (2 Tim. 4:1-5). They do so for your sake, so that you can obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, and with it eternal glory (2 Tim. 2:10).
I don’t know the two in the minivan, but I do know several who are no longer faithful to God because they were unwilling to remain in the truth. Some were dear friends. I cannot blame the ones who hold to the truth for my friends’ lost state. Each person chooses how they will respond to the truth of God, and each person will bear the consequence of that decision, whether eternal life or eternal punishment. Instead of blaming those who hold to the truth, I am grateful to them for making the way of God plain so that one day those lost friends may return obediently to God (2 Tim. 2:24-26). May the faithful always chase down false teaching and sin in the church so that she may remain pure and acceptable in the eyes of God.