Most people are non-confrontational; they don’t like to confront people or be confronted if what needs to be said makes them feel uncomfortable. The great devotional writer, Oswald Chambers, says that the church confronts the world with a message the world craves because it is deliverance, but it is deliverance through the cross of Christ (The Best of Oswald Chambers, Vol. I, 48). They may crave it, but they may resist it and those who deliver the message. This makes it hard for those who are non-confrontational by nature.
In some cases those who deliver the message of love, peace, and reconciliation are considered disturbers of the peace! Jürgen Moltmann, a German theologian, suggested those in places of power think Christians are a threat to the social order because the powerful can over-estimate their own importance and anyone bringing a message from a higher authority (like Christ) is seen as a threat (Crucified God, 25). Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who died a martyr in World War II, said that Christians will be seen as persons who cause divisions, undermine family life, mislead the nation, and disturb the peace (Cost of Discipleship, 216).
Today, it is not so much that we are disturbing the peace but that we are considered intolerant because of our witness to the fact that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father and there is salvation in no one else. Such an idea is offensive to people, it is said. Francis Schaeffer once wrote that truth carries with it confrontation. It is a loving, caring confrontation but confrontation nevertheless (The Great Evangelical Disaster, 64). It has been noted that the late Francis Schaeffer could confront the world with a tear in his eye. No doubt he had a deep-felt compassion for the lost and this led him into active ministry to the lost. It is not that we march out into the world seeking trouble but the nature of the truth that we are mandated to speak about will be resisted to some degree since darkness, in the spiritual sense, resists the light.
Today, we hear about ‘caring enough to confront.’ We confront persons with the truth of the gospel, which, if accepted, will benefit them immensely. John MacArthur writes that unless we recognize the truth (and it becomes a conviction for us) that Jesus is the only way to heaven, we will become (or remain) irrelevant and weak (Why One Way?).
In 2012, the leader of Boko Haram in Nigeria, Abubakar Shekau, wrote a letter to the president of Nigeria and in it he speaks to Christians as well. He said: “You Christians should know that Jesus… is not the son of God.” He has declared war on Christians but in reality he has declared war on Christ. He hates Christ and he hates Christians. “I am the Shekau that does not like Christians, and I don’t like Muslims that relate with Christians.” Boko Haram has publicly announced three choices for Christians in northern Nigeria: become Muslims, leave the area, or die.
Those who love Jesus have a hard time understanding that someone could hate Him so much. It is reality but it is not unexpected. In John 15:18 Jesus says: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”
Roy Stults, PhD, is the Online Workshop Coordinator and Educational Services Coordinator for The Voice of the Martyrs. He graduated from Olivet Nazarene University (BA and MA), Nazarene Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Doctor of Missiology), and The University of Manchester (England) with a PhD (theology). A Vietnam veteran, Dr. Stults served as a missionary for 19 years and pastored U.S. churches for eight years. Prior to joining VOM, he was a Professor of Religion at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.