Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out,
and quarreling and abuse will cease.
One of the dangers of our modern sensibilities is that we will place far too much power in the hands of the disgruntled, the attention-seeker, the complainer, or the scoffer. We have heard it said that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Sadly, this often means that we grant power and attention to individuals who ought not have such power in our lives.
Think for example of a family meal. Imagine that you have one person you know will make the event difficult. So, you bend over backwards to design everything to that person’s liking. Have you not noticed that this never works? The result generally tends to be that you deprive other, more positive, family members of what they like while still never managing to satisfy the complainer.
Of course, this is also true in churches. While congregations might be 85% positive and happy, pastors feel the emotional beating that they take from the small percentage of individuals who are never satisfied. If we are not careful, we pastors will find ourselves doing away with elements of church life that are making almost everyone in the church happy for the sake of the complaints of a tiny yet vocal group.
Even in the most recent news, we have seen the world focus its attention on one crackpot pastor who wants to burn copies of the Quran for the sake of a publicity stunt. This is one guy leading one congregation; he ought not have garnered the attention of national news. Yet, we love to give more attention to people like this than they deserve, and we mess up the world in the process.
We must be loving. We must care about others. We must try our very best to help others to live together in peace. However, we also need the wisdom to hear the proverb above. Sometimes we need to send the scoffer away instead of giving him or her the power to change everything for the rest of the group. We need to avoid giving power to scoffers, and in doing so, we will see quarrels die down.
Wouldn’t it be nice if this were easy? Of course it is not. We must pray more fervently. We must love more deeply. But we must do what we can to do things for the glory of God and the good of others without being driven by the few negative folks who would like to center the world on themselves.