People say a lot of things about God.
Sometimes, people say good things about God. But an awful lot of what is said about Him is misinformation, slanderous, flaming, blaming, offensive, ranting, blasphemous, infantile or just whiny. Really, God’s reputation is attacked every day as He gets way more blame than He deserves, and probably far too little credit.
And when slanderous things are said about God, there will never be any shortage of people to defend God, to argue, to picket, to protest in righteous indignation, to tell us what God thinks and how God feels.
If any of us got to be personally attacked liked that day after day, we’d feel pretty lousy. But I think God’s silence in the face of perpetual attack and blame is one of His most instructive attributes.
These are four things God’s silence has to teach us when it comes to defending ourselves, our reputation and our faith.
Emotionally Needy God
“Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like to be liked. I enjoy being liked. I have to be liked. But it’s not like this compulsive need to be liked. Like my need to be praised.” – Michael Scott
One of my favorite TV characters of all time is Michael Scott, one of the neediest, most dysfunctional, emotionally broken human beings to ever be imagined.
Contrasted with the most needy person in the world is God, who is absolutely the least needy being in the world. God deserves our praise and our love. He desires them. But does He need them? No. God is completely self-sufficient.
So often, our desire to defend ourselves when under attack is rooted in our very strong desire, even need to be liked and praised. If 99 people praise us, but just one criticizes, who do we hear loudest? We ought to take a note from God and just need praise a little less.
Not the End of the World
If you are anything like me, the thought of someone personally attacking you is one of the most uncomfortable thoughts possible. If we know someone is attacking, blaming or just bad-mouthing us, we want to step into the ring and knock them out.
What is so amazing about Jesus is how serene he seems when he tells his disciples that they will be hated…just because they are his disciples. Just add Jesus and presto! Instant controversy! Everywhere Jesus went, people personally attacked him, and yet he doesn’t get into shouting matches. And even when his own life is on the line, he just keeps his mouth shut.
Jesus’ message to his disciples? Being hated, even to the point of being killed is not the end of the world. Don’t worry so much about it.
You Can’t (Usually) Convert a Critic
A lot of people believed Jesus. Others ignored him. A whole lot of people hated him.
What’s amazing about Jesus is he doesn’t stick around town begging people to like him. He doesn’t try to drag people along and become his friends. He seems to be completely at ease with himself, offending people and then leaving them to gossip about Him.
Maybe because Jesus knew that exercise would be a waste of time. How much energy do we spend trying to engage our critics, trying to convert them into friends? What usually happens is both sides get more entrenched in their point of view and little is accomplished, much less a friendship.
Jesus knew that there were some people who would never like him. And he didn’t waste energy worrying about them.
Onward, Insecure Christian Soldiers
I have come to believe that, often, we are quick to jump into an argument, even a flame war to defend God (or our version of Him) because deep down we secretly believe that God needs defending, that maybe He is insecure and has poor self-esteem and we need Him to know that someone loves him, that someone has it right about Him.
Maybe our race to loudly defend our version of God is because it is we who are insecure about who we believe God to be. Ultimately, the God we worship says something about us. And when God is attacked, we feel attacked and insecure. Maybe we are actually defending our honor, our intelligence, our righteousness, not God’s. If we truly found our identities and confidence in who God is, maybe we would be content to let God talk to us, and we talk with Him, and let everyone else say what they want to.
What do you think? Is our pride and reputation our most important possession?