This week’s controversy regarding Pat Robertson’s comments about Ariel Sharon has exposed a very pervasive problem among us Christians as it relates to the compassion and respect or lack thereof that we show to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. We (myself included) are oftentimes no different than non-believers when it comes to embracing the impulse to vilify others with whom we disagree, and to do so with far reaching and negatively influential consequences now that we live in an Internet-driven mass communication world.
Was Pat Robertson’s statement theorizing about the reason for Ariel Sharon’s stroke compassionate or loving? Certainly not! To some it could be construed as being almost hateful. But to be fair, there was a Godly context in which it was being made, and from this writer’s point of view, the weight of Godly context must at least be given credibility and equal time amid the “bashing” of the speaker.
A useful example to Christians regarding the ‘proper’ way to relate to Christian leaders (which the secular world ascribes to Pat Robertson), can be found in the Old Testament of the Bible in the relationship of King Saul and David. David was personally anointed by God’s messenger Samuel to be the next king of Israel, and by today’s standards would appear to have the legitimate right to say and do anything to Saul who was saying far worse things about him in public than Pat Robertson has so far uttered, yet David’s response was remarkable in reflecting God’s message to all future believers: “…then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul's robe. Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. He said to his men, "The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD's anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD." (1 Samuel 24:4-6 NIV). Despite the awful things that Saul had said about him and the fact that Saul wanted to kill him, David acknowledged his sin of simply cutting off a piece of Saul’s robe because Saul was a king that God had permitted…a fellow brother in the Lord. David went on to this say about Saul: May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. As the old saying goes, `From evildoers come evil deeds,' so my hand will not touch you. (1 Samuel 24:12-13 NIV).
Now I’m sure to most of his critics, Pat Robertson is not one of God’s anointed. So therefore his comments and character is fair game for repudiation and ridicule as befitting a common hypocrite. However, the facts suggest that God has allowed him to be the leader of an expressively Christian enterprise for over 30 years, which has in the process brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to thousands if not millions all over the world. I make no claim to know his true heart as a believer, however evidence suggests that God has anointed his work in many ways (and I don’t use financial gain as the benchmark). The kingdom of God has been increased as a result. As Christians, that is our sole purpose for living is it not?
As it is the cacophony of criticism among fellow believers causes no distinction between us and the secular world. In that the cause of Christ is diminished if only because non-believers see us as being in lock step with them in the cause of vilifying a fellow believer. About this God says to his believers in Romans 12:2 - Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…(NIV)
Can we disagree with Pat Robertson’s comments if we are so inclined? Absolutely. But in doing so, it is useful for us to keep God’s word in mind: Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (Galatians 6:1-3 NIV)
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