Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hope for Another's Success

Continuing from yesterday, when we forgive another or have a conflict with another person, group, or organization, we often are told to pray for them and hope for their success. I believe that is biblical. However, I do not believe we often practice accurately.

When we refer to success, we usually mean that the person/group achieves their goals. I have to say that I do not believe that is biblical. People and groups do awful things. I truly doubt Jesus would have us pray for them to continue that.

Rather, I believe that when we hope and pray for another's success, we are to hope and pray that they become closer to Christ and succeed in his name.

Doing this in practice can be difficult. As one elder said, we should not criticize our brethren in Christ. I have been on the receiving end of unjustified attacks, and no good is produced from them. And such dissension and attacks have led to the fractured nature of the Church now. Yet evil is done, and it needs to be addressed. I posted a letter from John Eldredge a few months ago on this topic, in which he supports calling out incorrect practices.

However, this can be a slippery slope. What is the balance?

My current position is that one should not make public (or perhaps even private) criticisms (especially absolute condemnations) of groups and people they do not have enough information about and do not truly understand. This would account for most of the criticisms given in this world, I bet... :)

However, sometimes we are well enough informed to make an accurate and appropriate call about whether or not a wrong has occurred. How we handle that information is important, too. Name-calling is unhelpful. We should use that information constructively. A press release is rarely constructive in this area. Frankly, I am prone to saying that private comments are the most appropriate. In many ways, it can be a form of passive resistance. This can include stopping tithes, referring people away from an organization, providing education about a group's practices, etc. But this has to be done wisely and with the appropriate information and understanding. Again, we too often do this without sufficient and accurate information, in which case we likely sin (and you know how often I use that term...). We also need to be ready to provide reasons for our statements.

It's delicate, and I'm not sure there's a clear answer about how to deal with such situations. I don't know if my current conclusions are even remotely right, but it's where I've landed thus far in this struggle.

What do you think? How should we handle such circumstances?

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