Occasionally, I run across someone whose sincerity and earnestness I do not doubt but whose manner and tack are incredibly brusque, confrontational, and antagonistic. These same ones seem to frame questions disingenuously, almost as if to entrap you with the information they think they already know or pin you to positions they already believe you take. They may be quick to want to ascertain whose side you are on or what your stand is, even in matters that can be terribly complex and not so easy to answer. Their seeming attitude toward others is that they are guilty until proven innocent or that the ones they are examining are innately unwilling to stand up for what they, the “examiner,” believe is the truth.
This same belligerent approach was often taken by the Jewish leaders during Jesus’ ministry. They would come up with a scenario for Him simply to entrap Him or try and use His words against Him. Even though Jesus always answered correctly and never sinned or took a “wrong position,” they eventually twisted His words as part of their ploy to have Him crucified.
Ironically, these would deem themselves God’s staunchest defenders of the faith. Yet, through deceit, manipulation, unrighteous judgment, and the like, they reflect worldliness and fleshly works which God addresses in scripture. In Galatians five, Paul calls such things as “contentions,” “outbursts of wrath,” “selfish ambitions,” and “dissensions” works of the flesh (20). In instructions on dealing with one another, Paul tells Ephesus that such things as “bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (4:31-32).
There are brethren in Christ who have compromised God’s truth, and this has sadly occurred in every part of the country. That is not what is under consideration here. There are also some who are intent on redrawing smaller and smaller circles of fellowship all the time. They are using as criteria laws they have made and standards that are from themselves. No one can very easily or for very long stay inside their circle. But let us not be bullied or intimidated into thinking that something is wrong with us if we do not walk lockstep with the belligerent. Let us pray for them and continue to have the courage to speak what is truly truth in a way that is truly loving!