I recently copped some criticism from one of my very closest friends over my post concerning Tony Campolo. He felt that a stern response was warranted but was fearful (probably due to prior experiences of bitter response) about doing so because of the friction he didn't want to generate. We really need to question our friendships if they can't withstand loving correction. I assured my friend that I always want him to feel at liberty to rebuke me when necessary and within the bounds of Scripture.
Brothers and Sisters, I fear that this is symptomatic of the therapeutic age we live in. We live in a day where an individual's self esteem has become sacred and scape goats abound for our own sinful actions. Shepherds fear confrontation because even the smallest rebuke seems to generate long term ill feeling and it is not uncommon for church members to feel hostility from their pastor in response to being biblically critiqued. People may say that they have a high view of Scripture but only so long as they can maintain diplomatic immunity.
Why are we so surprised that we need rebuke in the light of our inherent sinful nature. Spurgeon said that if someone rebukes you for something you haven't done, receive it anyway because the day will come when the shoe will fit.
Proverbs 27:6 says this "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy." I contend that one of the strongest measures of a person's godliness is the way they take rebuke. One who longs to be conformed to Christ embraces the rebuke of a genuine brother because he fears offending God more than being offended personally. And beware those commendations from the enemy. I've seen more than one Christian leader taken down by his inner circle of yes men. I've also heard plenty of sermons against negativity (chapter and verse please). If by negativity they mean people who dare to disagree with them then it is a suicidal philosophy for they become isolated from the precious wounds that help us conform to Christ.
In closing I want to throw one other thought out there. Jesus laid down His life and went as a sheep to the slaughter - how are you doing in the area of dying to self. Jesus went ballistic when His Father's house became a den of thieves - are you more offended when people insult you or when they blaspheme God. I contend this is a good test of one's meekness.
I will not comment on the Tony Campolo post here - I'll do that later. I don't want to distract from the point I'm trying to make here because Pastors have a hard enough job to do without having to tread on the egotistical egg shells of an insecure congregation. Please - embrace the wounds that a true Christian brother or sister delivers so that we can become more like Christ.