I feel badly about it – because it reflected badly on the truth. You see, it wasn’t the Torah that made me a terrorist – Torah just gave me something new to be passionate about and if you knew me before Torah, you would see that I was a terrorist before Torah too. Maybe you just didn’t notice it because when I was a mainstream Christian terrorist, you agreed with me and called it “hard truth,” or the “truth in love,” or my favorite excuse, “sometimes truth hurts.”
And before I was a Christian terrorist? I was a Politics terrorist. Maybe you didn’t mind about that either if you were of the same political bent as I was and just said I was “telling it like it is.” But then I started believing something new, and preaching that like I preached everything else and you labeled me a terrorist. You were right, of course, I was a terrorist – it just never bothered you before. I should very much imagine that if Christians started strapping bombs to themselves and walking into Islamic preschools that terrorism would start offending Muslims too – but it doesn’t bother them now because they approve of the cause and the results.
Sadly, we are just hypocrites. The people who behave badly on “our” side of the road are just speaking truth whereas the guys on the other side are simply “jerks.” But the truth is that probably both sides are acting like jerks, and that it really has nothing to do with what they are preaching or what kool-aid they want you to drink. It has to do with who they are on the inside. That’s exactly who I was on the inside.
My political party never inspired me to change my ways. Christianity got me to change a little bit on the outside – but that Torah that I was initially bashing everyone with? Well, that combined with the example set by Messiah changed me a lot. I wish I knew at the beginning what I know now – if I had I would have kept my mouth shut for a few years, and would have spent that time studying instead, learning to live as Yeshua (Jesus) commanded me to. I should have learned before I started preaching. Sadly, I didn’t do that – I just kept doing what the church told me to do when I joined. They put me on a guilt trip about preaching Jesus to the lost before I even knew anything about Him, before I even had roots in the ground to keep me from toppling over. Just preach Him – and pray they don’t ask any hard questions. And if they do ask hard questions, pray even harder that they will simply accept the shallow and sometimes wrong answers we are going to have you memorize. I believed that if I wasn’t out there evangelizing, that I would be personally responsible for anyone who died without being saved first. But what about me? Didn’t I deserve some time to grow up and get mature? Wouldn’t it be better to wait a few years and send out mature, changed believers than the passionate but largely clueless newcomers? Wouldn’t it have been better to tell them to wait until they find out what their giftings are before we decided what we wanted them to do?
I look around on social media and see people making bold, angry and often insulting proclamations that are largely borne out of scriptural ignorance. Sadly, I see others who know quite a bit of scripture using it to lord authority over others – probably because they are the older versions of the former group, who just kept on preaching and never ended up maturing at all. But Messiah taught humility, justice and righteousness – it’s the heart of the Law, to love God and each other within a context of mercy and compassion. He turned tables over twice, and yet I see people using that as en excuse to do it every single day. He said “woe to you” occasionally but again, I see others doing it at the drop of a hat without saying any of the other things that he proclaimed daily. Turning over tables is easy, pronouncing woe is easy – that’s why the terrorists excel at it. Developing the fruit is hard, painful and sometimes even humiliating – but it requires overturning our own tables and pronouncing woe upon our flesh. That isn’t nearly as easy or fun as causing others to feel that pain and humiliation.
In scripture, prophets never pronounced doom without preaching repentance and the promise of restoration. If you are listening to someone who doesn’t preach restoration, then they aren’t doing the job of a prophet. Teachers teach scripture, making sure there is understanding, they don’t just bark verses at people – that isn’t teaching, that’s indoctrination.
It would be convenient if I could only point the finger at one group, but the Grace-terrorists are just as mean and insulting as the Torah-terrorists, just as sarcastic, and just as prone to slander. They mock and scoff and call names, and for what? So that they can write off whole books of scripture? Both sides claim that their arguments are rooted in the Bible, but the truth is that their tactics are rooted in the flesh. It’s our tactics that reflect on the character of our King more than our scripture quotations ever will. The tactics of terrorists are about division and destruction of “the enemy” and yet Messiah died for us while we were still His enemies. I watch it and I get infuriated – and I want to hate them for causing my King to look like a terrorist leader – but then I stop and see myself not that long ago. I see what they are doing and weep, because I personally know how it looks in the eyes of unbelievers. I know what it is like to want to have no part with any god whose worshipers would treat people like that. What they claimed as holiness, I saw as just plain using religion to justify acting like a jerk. I saw very clearly that in their eyes, the world was damned for acting the exact same way that the church acted “in love.” But then I got saved and I did it too.
But if we have the truth, if “our side” is the true possessor of the way, truth and life – then it should be changing us away from the flesh, away from the mocking, scoffing, slander and sarcasm. Not just from the outward expressions of sin, but from the defilements of our heart. External obedience is just the beginning, it’s learning how to submit to the loving instructions of our Father and King – showing the world that He is love and deserves our reverence. Instead of tearing down one another, our primary focus should be building up the reputation of our King in the earth as the God whose people behave differently from the world, not whose people simply act like the world while preaching a different message.
It would be nice if the war stopped. It would be wonderful if everyone would just look at Torah and Grace as extensions of our King’s excellent character. But that’s the problem, too many of us aren’t focusing on Him at all, but on how everyone measures up to what we are doing personally. It isn’t about us though, it is about Him, and our behavior in the view of the world is embarassing.