Christians and Controversy
In a world full of social media, we can broadcast our beliefs with the click of a button. While the secular world is apt to convey their opinions of social issues without hesitation, the question is raised: How should Christians respond to controversial issues? Do we express our beliefs openly, posting our feelings about abortion and marriage on Facebook walls and blogs, or do we remain silent? In a time where controversy is king, the secular world is watching at how Christians respond. In battling with the decision on how to handle controversy, we should look at the ultimate example on how to respond: Jesus.
Jesus never directly confronted political or divisive issues. The Pharisees constantly tried to trap Jesus by forcing him to give an opinion on contentious topics (Matthew 17:24:-27; 19:1-12; 22:15-22). His responses were earnest, yet brief. Jesus did not come into the world to debate the world, but to save the world. Therefore, his ministry centered on the person rather than the issue. Regarding social issues, Jesus' philosophy was to "love the sinner, hate the sin." He was notorious for dining with "sinners," tax collectors, and other "social misfits" because his concern was for their well-being rather than making a statement.
An Example of Controversy
One of the greatest examples of Jesus' philosophy regarding controversy can be found in Luke 5. Jesus calls Levi the tax collector to be his disciple. At that time, a tax collector was one of the most hated people in Judea because they exploited their neighbors for personal gain. However, Jesus approached him and told him to follow. The publican got up, left everything, and followed Jesus.
I personally would have loved to witness the exchange between Jesus and Levi. The only words recorded in the call of Levi are: "Follow Me." It appears this is the first exchange that the two men had ever had (though I would conjecture that the publican had seen the miracles Jesus had been performing in Capernaum and recognized he was different from other Rabbis). The fact that Jesus approached Levi, spoke to him, and wanted him to be a disciple deeply impacted him. The tax collector was forever changed.
We then immediately see Levi respond with hospitality. Not only does he host his new teacher in his own home, but he begins to reach out to others who need Jesus. This is the first "evangelism meeting" recorded in Scripture (Luke 5:29). Levi understands Jesus' approach and begins to embrace it as his own.