Christians are often divided because we are by nature defensive. Too many divisions in the church — specifically in personal relationships — stem from insecurity and defensiveness in the face of accusation, whether real or imagined.
These accusations may fall anywhere on the spectrum from an explicit and harsh rebuke to passive-aggressive concern.
By nature, we are passionately, even ruthlessly, committed to our own image, reputation, and vindication, even at the expense of important friendships or relationships in our lives. Even the people we trust more than anyone — a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a best friend — can quickly become villains with a sideways glance, comment, or question.
When we’re called into question — our integrity, our motives, our work ethic, our love or devotion — our internal alarm sounds and we take up arms to defend ourselves. Why? Because despite being saved by the cross, we desperately want to prove ourselves. We want to be worthy of God’s love — and of everyone else’s admiration.
If someone accuses us of being wrong, we want them to be wrong. And we want everyone else to know they’re wrong.
No Condemnation, No Panic
If you are in Christ, though, you are free from condemnation (Romans 8:1). No judgment can be brought against you that would confiscate anything Christ bought for you on the cross. He paid for all your sins — all your weaknesses, all your failures, every time you hurt or disappoint someone, everything wrong about you. For sure, on this side of eternity, you will be wrong. You will sin (1 John 1:8). But no one — not your friend, not your dad, not even Satan himself — can damn you with that information, however right they may be.
If this promise is true — no condemnation for us in Christ — it should radically reshape our response to criticism. We should be the least defensive people on the planet, because the gavel has fallen once for all, and we are free. We can receive the questions and accusations without fear, and with humility and patience. Instead of being defensive, irritated, or hostile, we can test all criticism — of whatever kind and from whatever heart — calmly and carefully.
Ultimately, there’s only one judgment that matters, and it’s not the courtroom of your friends’ opinion. Through Christ, God has already ruled decisively and eternally on your behalf and in your favor.