Last week I got a private message from someone I’ve known for a few years. He told me I was a false teacher and said he was praying that I would repent of preaching a false Gospel.
Not that he was willing to dialog with me about what the Gospel actually was, or to read a free copy of my book to find out what I actually believe about the topics he was offended about.
It was just easier to accuse me and slap that “heretic” label on me.
Then, a few days later, one of my closest friends also sent me an email to explain why he had unfriended me on social media due to something I had posted about how people – rather than God – wrote the Bible.
Just today, I got an email from a friend letting me know that he’s been getting labelled a heretic because he invited me to speak at his event a few months ago. He’s been hearing people warn others about me; to ignore me because I’m trying to lead them astray somehow.
Now, I can understand that sometimes I take stands that are controversial, and I admit that what I write about in books and post online in blog articles is strategically designed to rock the boat and challenge the status quo of American Christianity.
But to be very honest, it still hurts to be called names and experience the rejection of people who know me personally.
Now, it’s one thing if the rejection comes from total strangers online. That really doesn’t bother me very much. Over the last decade I’ve dealt with enough of that sort of noise from faceless social media accounts to develop a fairly thick skin.
But, when someone who has been to your house, sat at your table, prayed in your home and shared a meal with you actually takes the time to let you know they are done with you, there’s nothing quite like that sort of rejection.
As for me, I’d love to maintain those relationships. I forgive them automatically. I’d gladly invite them to my home again, share a meal with them again and spend time with them in fellowship as my brothers and sisters in Christ again at the drop of a hat.
But, I can tell that’s not something they’re interested in right now.
So, I give them their space. I back off. I allow them to move on with their lives.
Still, it hurts.
Now, at the same time, I’ve received some very encouraging and beautiful messages from people who have gone out of their way to bless me and to make sure I know how much my books and blogs and posts encourage them in their faith and bless them in their daily life.
Those are precious.
But, if I’m honest, I could receive 200 of those every day and it would still only take one single rejection from someone I know in the real world to tip the scales into the negative for me.
There’s not much I can do about those who reject me due to my opinions or my writing. I can’t help being who I am. I can’t unsee what I’ve seen or unknow what I’ve learned.
And I’m not someone who is willing to keep silent about the things I’ve discovered when it comes to Hell, or the Gospel, or Homosexuality, or the Bible, or any of those topics that I’ve been writing about for over a decade now.
So, this is who I am. This is what I get.
I read. I think. I learn. I write about it. I publish it. I get both praise and rejection.
This is how it works. I get it.
I just need to know: Do I stand alone? Or are there others out there who can’t keep silent? Are there others out there willing to take a stand for what they believe? Are there men and women who aren’t afraid to step up and say, “This is what I believe. Treat me as a friend and a brother in Christ, or reject me for thinking different. But I’m not about to sit quietly and allow only one side of this story to be told.”
Well, even if not. I’m still standing. I’m still writing. I’m not backing down. And I’m not going away.
Please understand. You can scream “Heretic!” and “False Teacher!” all you want. But none of that will stop me. None of that will ever shut me up, or shut me down.
I’d prefer that you take the time to consider the things I write about. I prefer that you consider the possibility that what you’ve been told your whole life about the Bible, and Hell, and Jesus might not be the whole story.
Yes, I would prefer a conversation about these things rather than an attack on my character and a rejection of my ideas. But, I also understand that some are afraid of that conversation because it might mean re-thinking their assumptions and they’re not ready for that just yet.
I get it.
So, it’s up to you. Make your choice. Listen and consider, or blame and reject.
But me? I’m doing my best to follow Jesus the best way I know how.
You don’t have to like what I say. You don’t even have to agree with what I write. But, please, at least have the courage to talk with me directly if you have a problem with something I say. I’m not that hard to reach. Some even say I’m a pretty good listener.
And if you don’t believe the way I do, that’s ok. I will still call you my brother or sister in Christ. I’ll never reject you. I’ll never call you a heretic or a false teacher. I’ll just love you, the way I would want you to love me.
Can you say the same?