By Tyler D. Smith
Author of “Searching for Seven”

Dear Christian,

Please stop being so extreme on every issue.

Please stop alienating entire groups of people.

And please stop ruining your witness.

Dr. King Jr. once said “Jesus Christ was an extremist for love, truth, and goodness.” Those are the only categories we’re really called to be extreme in.

In today’s world, everybody wants to shout their opinions and fight over who is right. It seems like there are two extreme views on EVERY topic. The reality is, truth is often found somewhere in the middle of the two extreme points of view.

Take politics for example- You can’t honestly tell me Republicans OR Democrats are always right, or always have the best policies. There’s nothing wrong with considering yourself one or the other. But I never want to be the person who refuses to find the good or the truth in other people and opposing sides. I think Jesus was too conservative for liberals, and too liberal for conservatives. I want to be in THAT category.

How about current events like the Coronavirus? It seems like you can’t have an opinion without getting screamed at by somebody who has a different view. I get it- We’re all trying to make sense of this thing, and there are people who have been impacted by it more than others. But while one side implies “We can’t open anything for 2 years” and the other says “Let’s open today with zero guidelines”… why can’t we find a middle ground on things like this?

To the Christian who continues to post extremely one-sided articles and videos- please educate yourself first. And by educating yourself, I don’t mean reading one other article about the other extreme just so you can justify your own points.

Christians have also been getting too comfortable bashing their own team lately.

To the pastors making hour-long videos about why your church is holier than Hillsong and Bethel Churches, congrats on the millions of views you’ve been getting. But… what’s the point? Are you really doing your congregation a service? What about all of the nonbelievers that watch the video and see that Christians can’t even get along with each other? Who cares if Bethel has a slightly different theology than you? Is your theology 100% correct? Does their worship songs really turn people away from Jesus? Not a chance. So, again… what’s the point?

I got blocked from a pastor on Facebook for disagreeing with his take on Bethel Worship. He called me a “pastor” and said I was blind to the truth. It was quite amusing, but disheartening at the same time. We’re sending a terrible message to the world.

When I was sending my publisher all of the reference notes for the quotes I used in my book, I couldn’t believe what I was finding. I used quotes from people like Andy Stanley, Timothy Keller, Francis Chan, Jon Foreman, and Bob Goff. And every single time I Google’d one of their names, a bunch of articles came up from people bashing them and their beliefs. Guess who they were from? Other Christians. Of course.

Francis Chan recently said “Everybody is a heresy hunter today. Everybody likes to think that only them and their four favorite pastors are right in their theology.” That’s so true.
We’re never going to fully agree with someone else on everything. If a pastor says one thing you don’t like, are you done with them? Imagine if people treated you that way. Imagine if marriages followed that model. Imagine if Jesus treated us like that.

Many Christians like to quote 2 John to justify calling out other Christians. But that passage is talking about nonbelievers- not those who have a slightly different theology. Scripture ACTUALLY warns against those who are divisive and says to stay away from THEM. But what do I know?

More and more, I find myself in the middle of debates and arguments… and I want to stay there. There’s a time and a place to stand up for your convictions, and to be extreme in your point of view. But for the sake of the Church, do it in a loving way. Have an open mind. Educate yourself. The truth is probably in the middle of the two extremes.

They’ll know we are Christians by our “opinions.” No? Oops.

They’ll know we are Christians by our love.