The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. –Proverbs 18:17
I’m going to sound like a heretic here for a moment, but please hang with me.
Here is my heresy—I’d absolutely love to read the anti-Bible. It’d be the Bible written by Paul’s opponents, the Gospels from the perspective of the Pharisees, the Psalms through the eyes of David’s enemies, Exodus told by Ramses, etc. It would be interesting because I bet they would be the hero in their stories. The Israelites would be the bad guys, Jesus would be a rabble-rouser, Paul would be exactly who his enemies in 2 Corinthians accused him to be, and David’s enemies would be those in power trying to squelch this rebel uprising.
Of course I don’t believe any of those things to be true. Those would be fake news. Jesus is the Son of God. While he certainly roused the rabble, he wasn’t the enemy, he’s the hero of our story. But we read the Bible best when we realize that at the time of their original composition there was another case being stated.
Our Hero-Wannabe Tendencies
I say that it’s important and helpful for our own Bible reading because we have a tendency to always project ourselves as the hero in these stories. When we read the Psalms, we read them as if we are in step with King David and the victims needing God’s rescue. And that’s very much how we should read them, this is their intention. But there is another very real sense in which often a Psalm isn’t actually our Psalm because we aren’t King David running from the enemies—we’re the enemy pursuing the King. We don’t need solace as victims we need rebuke as perpetrators. We just think it’s our Psalm.
I was thinking about all of this the other day in preparing a sermon on Psalm 56. David described his enemies as those who were trampling him, oppressing him, gathering for an attack, lurking in the background, watching his steps waiting for him to fall so they could take him down. But how would they have described their activity? Would they consider themselves faithful workers diligently pursuing a rebel in an attempt to preserve the rightful king of Israel, Saul?
Joining in the Take-Down
It is important for us to consider this perspective. And especially as Christians in our take-down culture. On a weekly basis there are a handful of people trampled by our outrage parade. And we followers of Jesus can be deeply involved in all of this. We’ll scroll through the sermons and clips of false teachers, lying in wait for that bit of false doctrine, and we’ll pounce. We’ll lurk on the politician’s Twitter feed and wait for her to expose her hypocrisy. Pounce! Exposed! And all the while we are doing the Lord’s work. We are protecting the sheep. We’re protecting our nation from the infiltration of evil.
And maybe so.
There really are wolves. There really are enemies. There really is evil that needs to be pushed back.
But there is something interesting about shepherding and calling out evil and pushing back darkness which we find in the Scriptures. Shepherds stay on their land. They don’t leave the flock for the woods to hunt down the wolves. Yes we expose the works of darkness but we do it in the light. We aren’t lurkers. Real protection of sheep isn’t interchangeable with the activity of David’s oppressors.
There is a way in which the man of God is to proclaim the truth and to gently oppose those who are enemies to the gospel. Yes, satire is a thing. Yes, Paul basically told his enemies to castrate themselves. But there is a way to even speak in such a way and still be gentle and loving and truth-seeking and not a trampler of men.
So, can we please not join in on this culture of destruction? We will not be guiltless if we take up the strategy of the wicked, even if we are doing it for a righteous cause. There is one who aims to destroy. And there is one who actually has the right to destroy both soul and body in hell. We shouldn’t be the former and we aren’t the latter. Let us be those who lovingly proclaim the gospel even over our fallen “enemies.”
This article originally appeared here.