Please! As Followers of Jesus We Can Do Better

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By Dr. Michael Brown, A Sr. Contributor to The Stream, Aug. 15, 2017

Michael BrownIn the aftermath of the Charlottesville tragedy, what grieves me most is that so much of the church sounds just like the world.

We sound just as divided, just as politicized, just as biased. Rather than taking the higher ground and calling others to join us, we sink down into the fray, getting soiled and dirtied in the process. Rather than being a voice of sanity and clarity to the nation, our message is muddles. We are more rude than redemptive and more caustic than compassionate. Surely we can and must do better.

It’s one thing to have biblically-based convictions. It’s another thing to be a slave to culturally-colored opinions.

It’s one thing to be passionate for justice and truth. It’s another to be so right in our own eyes.

Often, There’s Truth on Both Sides

How many of us do our best to understand both sides of an argument? How many of us make an effort to listen and understand before we speak? How many of us expose ourselves to viewpoints that we differ with? How many of us put caring before criticizing? How many of us realize that we all have blind spots that hinder our objectivity? How many of us even take time to pray and ask God for His wisdom and His perspective?

If we completely shut out opposing views, how can we be so sure that we’re being objective?

Do you remember when Sean Hannity’s TV show was actually Hannity and Colmes (speaking of the late Alan Colmes)? The few times I tuned in, I would hear Hannity present his position and think to myself, “Well done. He nailed it.” Then Colmes would respond and I’d say, “You’ve got a great point there.”

Often, things are not so black and white, and often there is truth and error on both sides. But if we completely shut out opposing views, if we refuse even to hear what others have to say, how can we be so sure that we’re being objective?

It’s Painful to See This Happening in the Body of Christ

I’m an unashamed, unapologetic, moral conservative, and I would gladly die on the hill of my core biblical convictions. At the same time, I can tell you what my ideological opponents believe and why they believe it. And I can present their arguments in such a way that they would say, “You understand our position.” Yes, I understand it, and I reject it.

But all too often, when I’m interacting with someone I differ with, my focus is not to understand their position before responding. My focus is to rebut them, to prove they’re wrong, to demonstrate I’m right. And that begs the question: Am I trying to win an argument or am I trying to be redemptive? Am I trying to be right or trying to help someone see the truth? And am I even open to being wrong on any position I hold?

To be candid, though, our lack of ability to have constructive interaction is not my biggest concern. Rather, it’s that I see racism in the Body; I see politically-driven factionalism in the Body; I see lack of love; even worse, I see cruelty. And so much of it is done in the name of Jesus. What a reproach.

We’re Obviously Not Listening to Each Other

Over the weekend, we posted a meme on Facebook that we’ve used before, picturing two adorable toddlers, one white and one black, with the white boy’s arms around the black boy. The caption reads: THERE’S ONLY RACE. THE HUMAN RACE.

To my shock, when I looked at some comments later in the day, there was a long thread started by one white believer who claimed that the real crisis was white genocide caused by intermarriage. Another long thread was started by a white believer pointing out that it was the white toddler embracing the black toddler, since blacks refuse to embrace whites because of past hurts in America. I deleted both threads in their entirety, making plain that trash like this had no place on our Facebook page.

Beware the danger of living in a bigoted echo chamber!

But the sword cuts both ways. Some black believers have fully embraced the radical-left narrative that most Trump supporters (including white evangelicals) are white supremacists. As for Trump himself, a very polite, God-fearing black believer called my radio show this week and told me he felt Trump was a racist. When I asked him why he believed that, some of his reasons included: 1) Trump is intentionally trying to take health care away from black and Hispanic children; and 2) Trump is trying to overturn everything Obama did simply because of race.

It’s one thing to dislike the president and say he’s divisive. It’s one thing even to believe he’s a racist of sorts. It’s another thing to believe that he opposes Obama policies because Obama was black or that he wants to steal health care from black children. That is a bigoted, unfounded position.

I understand that people have their viewpoints. But to me, when we can be this racially divided in our perspectives — as professing followers of Jesus, at that — it’s clear that we are not hearing each other clearly, not weighing the evidence objectively, and perhaps not even willing to consider that we might be wrong on any level. Beware the danger of living in a bigoted echo chamber!

What if We Talked the Way the Bible Says To?

And who can even begin to describe the cruelty of many of our posts — the mockery of our comments, the disparaging tone of our tweets, the ugly nature of our communication? If we spoke and wrote based on biblical principles, for some of us, that would reduce our words by about 90 per cent and change the content and tone of the 10 percent that was left.

What if we lived by this verse alone? “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Eph. 4:29).

Or how about this one? “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:6).

Or how about this? “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (Jam. 1:19-20).

And how about seeking to practice “love your neighbor as yourself”?

For the sake of a watching world, we can and must do better. As we so often hear, you and I are the only Jesus some will ever see.

Today, as the world watches us, His followers, what does it think of Him?


Dr. Michael Brown ( is a Senior Contributor to The Stream, and the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Saving a Sick America: A Prescription for Moral and Cultural Transformation. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

He became a believer in Jesus 1971 as a sixteen year-old, heroin-shooting, LSD-using Jewish rock drummer. Since then, he has preached throughout America and around the world, bringing a message of repentance, revival, reformation and cultural revolution. He holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a visiting or adjunct professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Fuller Theological Seminary, Denver Theological Seminary, the King’s Seminary and Regent University School of Divinity, and he has contributed numerous articles to scholarly publications, including the Oxford Dictionary of Jewish Religion and the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament.

Dr. Brown is the author of more than 25 books, including Our Hands Are Stained with Blood: The Tragic Story of the “Church” and the Jewish People, which has been translated into more than twelve languages, the highly acclaimed five-volume series, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, a commentary on Jeremiah (part of the revised edition of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary), and several books on revival and the Jesus revolution. His newest books are Outlasting the Gay Revolution: Where Homosexual Activism Is Really Going and How to Turn the Tide (2015), The Grace Controversy: Answering 12 Common Questions about Grace (2016) andBreaking the Stronghold of Food (2017).

Dr. Brown is a national and international speaker on themes of spiritual renewal and cultural reformation, and he has debated Jewish rabbis, agnostic professors, and gay activists on radio, TV and college campuses. He is widely considered to be the world’s foremost Messianic Jewish apologist. He and his wife Nancy, who is also a Jewish believer in Jesus, have been married since 1976. They have two daughters and four grandchildren.