George E. Darling, Sr.
Quite often I hear the old bromide slithering off the tongue of some back-boneless member of the church, “You need to learn how to disagree without being so disagreeable!” This usually happens after you have locked horns with some of the denominational preachers of the town, or called some brother to tow that has stepped out of line doctrinally. One would almost wonder if such a statement was from the scriptures and if he should not be ashamed to get right in and dig the devil’s in any of their false doctrines. According to some it would be perfectly alright to just smile sweetly and do nothing to stir up his opponent.
I’ll go along with this attitude if we are disagreeing over which is the best road to take to California; but where it is a matter of doctrine, where it affects the church and the souls of men are jeopardized, and will be misled for possibly centuries to come as a result of it, I can’t understand how any Christian can say, “We can disagree but we don’t have to be disagreeable.”
Important issues demand hard hitting, and hard hitting makes things disagreeable. Ask Elijah on Mt. Carmel. The issue was between idolatry and the God of heaven. It was not something to smi Ie sweetly about and not get ruffled. Of course old Elijah handled the situation in an uncouth manner when he dealt with those devils in such a way that they knew they had been dis-agreed with. In fact he was getting down right sarcastic when he called out to the poor deluded “fire worshippers” and said: “Cry aloud; for he is a god: either he is musing, or he has gone aside, or he is on a journey, or peradventure, he sleepeth and must be awakened.” Surely Elijah knew they were honest and sincere! They continued their ceremonies, crying, cutting themselves till the blood gushed out. Brother you can be sure that Elijah’s speech did not make for conciliation. He wasn’t trying “to get along with” these false teachers. It was war unto the death as far as Elijah was concerned. And brethren, you know Elijah must have been doing something right. God blessed him, when he took the whole bunch down to the brook Kishon and “Slew them there.” I doubt very much if the prophets of Baal thought Elijah was trying to be agreeable.
Certainly Elijah was not orthodox according to my “Disagree but don’t be disagreeable” brethren. Those false prophets didn’t like it to be sure, and ungodly Jezebel. and a threat upon him.
Go back and ask neither did old idolatrous, It meant war from then on his life; but God was with another God-blest character, Micaiah, as he is called before Ahab and Jehosophat. He and Ahab were in disagreement, but Micaiah didn’t try to be agreeable with Ahab. His message was a disagreeable message. When Zedekiah smacked him on the cheek, it was disagreeable. When he called him a liar it was disagreeable, but God blessed Micaiah’s prophecy and it all came true to the letter.
When the Jews said to Jesus, “Thou bearest false witness of thyself; thy witness is not true,” they were calling him a liar! This would indicate they we re not in agreement. Jesus in turn called them “Bond servants of sin” and then accused them of trying to murder Him because He had told them the truth. To make the disagreement more disagreeable, He added, if you are of your father the devil…”
Try to figure out from that whether Jesus was trying to be agreeable with those fellows. They called Jesus a Samaritan, (the dirtiest thing they could think of). That sounds as though two cannot walk together unless they be agreed, and be disagreed if each actually believes what he is affirming. No sir, when Jesus was dealing with misleading men who persisted in doing wrong, their disagreement was not agreeable.
Stephen, before the High Priest and the Jews gives us another little incident that the Holy Spirit records as being a disagreement that came to be almost dis-agreeable. They were in opposition to the cause he represented. He gave them a great summary of the history of Israel. Now read the conclusion of his sermon! That speech was not intended to be agreeable!
Brethren, if a man is worth arguing with, then he is worth arguing with, with all I your might. If an issue is worth discussing, it is worth giving it everything you have. If you do that, you may not be agreeable. In fact, you may be downright disagreeable, but at least you have tried, and that earnestly, to let the opposition know they are wrong. They may bite you and stone you like they did Stephen. They may crucify you like they did Christ, but you’ll be in good company. I’ve been preaching the gospel for thirty eight years and I have never seen so great a tendency on the part of the members of the church to compromise the truth.