You are hereWhen brothers attack
When brothers attack
Did Cain attack Abel because Abel was purposely trying to make Cain look bad? Did Joseph’s brothers attack him because he was teaching some outlandish doctrine? What would have happened had Cain simply asked his brother (or God for that matter) why Abel’s offering was favored? What would have happened if Joseph’s brothers had allowed for the possibility that God was about to use him for something special?For 11 years I more or less got along fine with my Christian “brothers” of the mainstream. Of course during those 11 years my “offerings” and “dreams” were no different than theirs. But this article isn’t really about me because I don’t want to lead the reader to think I’m seeking pity as a poor persecuted person, nor do I want someone to think I’m projecting a “holier than thou” attitude.
With those disclaimers out of the way let us move on. When Christians begin discussing doctrine there are usually a few types of reactions.
1. Adamant opposition
2. Silent treatment
You have even heard some brothers proclaim “doctrine divides” and thus we should avoid such disputes. They will further quote such passages as Colossians 2:8, Colossians 2:18, and 1 Timothy 6:19-21 claiming that all talk about doctrine is simply conjecture or “vain babbling” by philosophical intellectual Christians that don’t have a “loving heart”.
But what of our relationship with God? As Christians we all believe that we come to Christ as “little children”. The emphasis is not that we are completely ignorant but that we are trusting like little children, otherwise Jesus would not have constantly said to the masses; “You know the Scriptures say…”
A relationship does not remain in its infancy but a good relationship grows and blossoms. There is a tendency to desire the simplicity of our youth, to go back to those simple times. I believe the same is true in our Christian life. We may have been “saved” under the preaching of a humble street preacher with a fourth grade education and thus we are hesitant to move beyond the simple message of “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life”. But is that the kind of relationship God wants to have with us, one that does not advance? Paul says:
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” -- 1 Corinthians 13:11-12
Does God want us to remain a body of milk drinkers? Certainly there is the possibility that some people may become “puffed up” in knowledge. (You can see this a lot from people with “Dr.” before their names) But if our Christian foundation is based on the humility of knowing we are nothing but grasshoppers then what is there to be vain about? What is almost laughable is that when I speak with common Christians about doctrinal issues they blame me for being too intellectual and when I speak with those Christians in leadership roles they blame me for being too common.
So what are we to do when our brothers attack? Should we try to “do unto them before they do unto us”? Should we put the “death knell” to their arguments? Should we label them with all sorts of labels?
“Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” -- 1 John 3:13-15
Notice how this passage speaks of passing from death to life and that evidence of that transition is a Christian’s display of love. Jesus spoke constantly of people having life and never dying. Perhaps those who are unable to love have never even been alive but are still dead?
Ultimately the disputes over doctrines are important because if doctrine divides, it merely divides "milk drinkers" from the “meat eaters”. Those “meat eaters” need to be more compassionate than ever, and if they really allowed the doctrine (doctrine simply means “teaching”) of Christ to infuse them then they would almost effortlessly be able to love. Certainly the “milk drinkers” will continue to kick and scream, all along accusing others of cold intellectualism. Let us not forget that we were also young and be patient and perhaps others will be patient with us if and when we have difficulty relating to their youth.
So next time you are about to launch into a pointed retort, or next time you are about to give someone the cold shoulder think if what you are doing is loving in the Christian sense. Rather go to scripture together in prayer and both be ready to assent to God and His Word, even in the face of your long-standing traditions.