I had lunch recently with a Christian coach and he shared how he was telling a fellow coach all the wonderful things the Lord did at two recent FCA summer camps. This other coach used the opportunity to criticize FCA. My initial reaction was defensive and angry toward this other coach, whom I don't even know personally. Within 24 hours, however, I was able to prevent my emotions from overriding my convictions. Here are a few reflections on the incident:
1. Who are you talking about?
To be grammatically correct, about whom are you talking? (Sorry, my Iowa education won't let that slide)! Someone criticizing FCA is really criticizing people. We don't have any buildings or structure; we are people. Discerning ears should seek clarification. When someone on the news states "The White House said today..." I would like to be there to ask the reporter, "Who exactly said that?" The White House cannot speak. Was it President Obama, the First Lady, another staff member? In this case, this coach was speaking about me and a Christian coach. He doesn't speak to that Christian coach and he has never met me. We must not think that we can criticize a business or organization (including a local church) without hurting people. But the bigger point is...
2. Don't be shocked by criticism
I am amazed how when someone does good, accomplishes something, or receives notoriety - here come the haters to cut him or her down! It demonstrates the truth of Jeremiah 17:9 that "the heart is deceitful above all things." The Bible has so much to say about how the believer will face criticism, gossip, slander, persecution, and hate - not for doing bad, but for doing good. We need to be reminded so we won't be shocked:
My enemies whisper about me. They think the worst.. - Psalm 41:7
Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. - 1 John 3:13
The wicked detest the upright. - Proverbs 29:27
If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.… - John 15:18-19
A gossip separates close friends. - Proverbs 16:28
You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. - Matthew 10:22
3. Not so with you!
In scripture Jesus shares the world does it this way, but not so with you and in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus repeats You have heard it said...but I tell you. There is the way of the world, but the way of the Kingdom is different! Thy Kingdom come = My kingdom go! In this case, my way is to be defensive, angry and fire back at the critic and do some gossip and slander of my own. Not so with you... Thank you, Jesus, for the reminder that you have called me to a higher path. The critic is not my enemy and even if he were, I am called to love him.
Teammates, let us predict criticism and slander, with God's help let it be water off a duck's back, not spend time defending ourselves, avoid retaliation, and not grow weary in doing good. (Galatians 6:9).