We don’t want them to be faithful
Jeffrey L. Samelson
We want to be faithful to our Savior and to the Scriptures. We recognize the important role of the Scriptures in creating, sustaining, and guiding our faith in Jesus. It is important to work, and to pray for our churches, pastors, and all other Christians to be as faithful to the Word as we are—in belief, preaching, and practice.
In our relationships we also expect faithfulness from our friends, not necessarily faithfulness to Jesus and the Scriptures. Some of our friends do not share our beliefs, but we expect them to be true friends, faithful to the bond that ties us together. We expect our spouses to be faithful. Even in our business dealings we want faithfulness to sound business principles. In government as well, we expect fair and faithful treatment under the law and the constitution. We highly value the rule of law and the principles of equality and justice for all.
But what happens when someone is absolutely faithful to principles or standards that will not bring them peace and joy or will threaten our own lives and the lives of those we care about. Then we find ourselves in an awkward situation by encouraging them to be faithful.
Imagine Jesus telling his disciples that, although the Pharisees were sons of the devil (John 8:42-47) and serpents (Matthew 23:33), it was wonderful that they were faithful to their principles. What if Paul told the crowds that his message was the truth, but if they were faithful to Zeus or Diana that was a good alternative. And what about Elijah after the Lord sent fire from heaven in the contest with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18). Do we imagine that he would have applauded them for their commitment and devotion to their god?
It seems ridiculous. Yet, countless Christians speak that way of Islam and other religious beliefs. They say, “We believe what we believe, they believe what they believe, and religion is a good thing; let’s encourage them to be faithful to their god and consistent in their beliefs!” Granted, many of those who express such thoughts do so from ignorance—and from a comfortable position far from danger. But it’s not hard to know what faithfulness to Islam looks like: the beheadings of ISIS, the kidnappings of Boko Haram, the abuse of women, the horror and injustice of sharia law. It’s these things that are consistent with their scriptures and the founding of their faith. The principles are not peaceful coexistence, freedom of belief, equality, or justice.
Faithfulness to what is false or foul is no virtue, even when violence is not in view. If the peaceful, patriotic Mormon coming down the street follows his faith, he is committed to leading others away from Christ. The Christian who consistently holds to false teachings may miss out on the joys of the gospel, confuse others, or even lose her faith.
So instead of encouraging others’ false and dangerous beliefs and ideologies, we must do what Christians do: Stand firm on God’s Word, speak the truth in love, and pray for and love both our fellow Christians and the enemies of the gospel. Those who think and believe differently are sinners in need of Christ’s salvation. Whoever they are and wherever we find them, we want them to be unfaithful to their false gods, wrong religions, and erring ideologies because we want—and pray and work—for them to be faithful to Jesus Christ, our Savior and theirs too.
Contributing editor Jeff Samelson is pastor at Christ, Clarksville, Maryland.
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Author: Jeffrey L. Samelson
Volume 102, Number 6
Issue: June 2015
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