I shook my head as I read of yet another attack on free speech. Instigated by conservatives, liberals, progressives, and all shades within the political, religious, and socioeconomic spectrum, attacks have occurred under the ostensible banner of free speech. The truth is a distorted version of this with each side averring inclusiveness but rejecting opinions that oppose their own belief system. Our nation and the world have never been more divided, or has it?
The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected.
G.K. Chesterton as quoted in Illustrated London News, 19 April 1924.
This cynical quotation from English theologian, G.K. Chesterton, was made over a hundred years ago. Chesterton was renowned for his turn of phrases and his insight still has relevance for today. What was needed then and now, is a voice of reason.
Over two thousand years ago, the city of Jerusalem experienced a similar crisis. The Jewish leaders were afraid of losing control of their ruling power to an upstart and radical group called Christians. Yet, even after punishing the Apostles by beating and imprisoning them, and warning them to never speak about Jesus Christ again, it only emboldened them to declare the Truth of Resurrection. What could they do? The Apostles were even rejoicing that they were worthy to suffer for the sake of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Gamaliel was a voice of reason in this very chaotic time as the nascent Christian Church was being established in the first century A.D. He recounted two other recent heretics who attempted to stir up the people and lead them away from the Jewish leaders. However, after both of them were killed, their movements perished with them. He then offered this sage advice to his fellow Jews.
So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice…
Acts 5:38-39 (ESV)
Did Gamaliel see a glimmer of Truth in the message of the Gospel? Did Gamaliel ever become a believer in Jesus Christ? History does not record this. However, one of his disciples did, Saul of Tarsus. Saul was a fervent persecutor of the early Christian believers, imprisoning many as heretics to the Jewish faith. At the height of the persecution, Saul met the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus and was instantly transformed and converted to Christianity, becoming the Apostle Paul, the greatest missionary and defender of the Christian faith of the known world in the first century.
Undoubtedly Paul gained much wisdom from his mentor, Gamaliel. He recognized early divisions in the Church and adroitly reasoned with the Believers to seek Jesus Christ rather than their own interests. He confidently and boldly declared…
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:28 (ESV)
In today’s politically charged and polarized environment, we need calm and sober voices of reason to address the issues that divide us. Like the Apostle Paul, we need to seek and embrace what binds us together rather than being distracted by the differences that divide us. Regardless of our cultures, religions, and socioeconomic status, God has created all of us and is desirous for all to be reconciled with Him through faith and belief in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.