Lambs and Geese, Foxes and Wolves

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Also in this morning’s paper was an editorial response of mine to the column of Rose Huskey and Saundra Lund last Saturday. Here it is:

If I might, I would like to briefly respond to Rose Huskey and Saundra Lund, who served up a veritable casserole of charges to your readers on Saturday last. This is hard to respond to in the space of just 700 words because charges can always be raised with relative economy of scale. “Scoundrel, liar and cheat” only takes four words, and it almost always takes more than four words to answer once the mud-gobbing has begun.

Anyone who has followed the vituperation poured out on our church over the last several years in places like Venom 20/20 knows that this whole controversy is not a simple matter of a couple of nice ladies trying to get some “renegade church” to obey the law. Because of that, the headline of that column is the main thing I would like to respond to – “When the Fox Preaches, Watch Out for the Geese.”

When Jesus commissioned His disciples, He ordained them to something that was almost the exact opposite of this. He said that He was sending His preachers out as lambs among wolves (Luke 10:3). To use the metaphor of Saturday’s column, He was sending the goose to preach to the foxes.

Why would the Lord use this kind of image? What is the nature of lambs? What is the nature of wolves? One of the most obvious differences is that lambs are in no position to try to coerce anyone to do anything. Still less are they in a position to compel wolves to do anything. But wolves do not think the same way. They have no scruples about imposing their view of the world, or their view of lunch, on the lambs.

Everything that Huskey and Lund point to as examples of our ecclesiastical misdeeds are actually examples of voluntary transactions, freely entered into. From enrollment in NSA, to boarding arrangements, to attendance at Christ Church, what we have is a group of peaceful, law-abiding people, working hard to mind their own businesses, love their own families, and improve their community. Attempted harassment through governmental or “legal” channels has been the order of the day (nine such attempts so far). These attacks come from individuals with a private set of personal or ideological grudges, and too much time on their hands. I am not counting the petty vandalisms in the private sector, and other periodic manifestations of spite. Further, in the eyes of our accusers, to point any of this out is to be guilty of “whining,” which is hopefully not the evaluation they would offer if we were black or Jewish and getting the same treatment. The Intoleristas have certainly lived up to their nickname.

This illustrates the difference between freedom and coercion. The reason believing Christians love freedom the way we do is because God has promised us that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17). We are not interested in trying to force those who differ with us to do anything. They, on the other hand, are not shy at all about the free and liberal use of coercion. In saying this, I am not talking about laws we all must live by. This whole controversy has been driven, first, by misunderstanding the law, and second, highly selective and discriminatory applications of those misunderstandings to our ministries alone.

The confusion on this is so pronounced that it cannot be accounted for by appealing to mere political differences. There are only two fundamental ways to walk in the world—the way the Lord showed us, or our own autonomous way, the way of unbelief. Genuine faith in God the Father through Jesus Christ always leads us into the law of liberty. Rejection of God’s sovereignty, and of His kindness to us through the death of Jesus Christ, leads necessarily into patterns of coercive attempts to run the lives of others. And if those others dare to differ, then the attempts are ramped up to run the dissenters out of town. What else could “Not In Our Town” mean? But the Lord Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and rose again from the dead on the third day in order to demonstrate that the way of the Lamb triumphs over the way of the wolves.

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