By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:1-5
Paul's opening makes me chuckle as it seems to be teetering on sarcasm and frustration that he has obviously been challenged to be less "timid" by those he is addressing. It would appear that they have defined his approach as lacking in the kind of boldness they think he should have and must have critiqued what they interpreted as timidity. He isn't having it.
We are in a similar season of dictating how others should express their righteousness (t-shirts, yard signs, bumper stickers, LOUD and long directives on social media about the right way to think, feel, act, and be a good human). Justice has become as much about condemning as it has about uplifting. I have felt the pressure to prove my righteousness in this call-out culture by never communicating grace or forgiveness or patience which based on historical patterns are often equated with tools of the oppressor to maintain unjust systems. But grace, forgiveness, and long-suffering are the means by which Jesus changes me, so why am I willing to withhold the Gospel from anyone else?
So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:3-4
We do not wage war with the weapons of the world, which seem to favor shame, public and personal condemnation and rejection, ungoverned rants of rage and name-calling and labeling, and a refusal to listen or learn or be curious or seek understanding. Even we as Christians have forgotten that the Gospel does not affirm the end justifying the means. "By any means" is not God's voice. God's good goal for all of us is repentance and restoration to His image, not shame and condemnation for not conforming to one particularly prioritized aspect of God's Law. Shame and blame send us into hiding behind fig trees but God's kindness leads us to repentance and to be clothed in His righteousness.
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:32-34
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. 1 John 2:9-11
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:7-12