"Let these men alone"
"Any attempt to systematically wipe out the bad guys leaves
the group out of balance and desperately in need of a new villain. This may
sound silly, but it does happen. Take for instance a small group of committed
Christians. They desire to have a pure fellowship -- to root out any evil within
their midst. The only blight on their horizon is that one member feels
comfortable with [pick your favorite 'error' here]...
"After failing to dissuade him, the group expels him from
their midst as one who is too loose. In essence they've pulled in the lines of
moral behavior, but now no one is certain how far. Believe it or not, a new
deviant will soon emerge from the hitherto 'good' people. His or her OK behavior
is now on the fringe and is the subject of condemnation...
"This splintering is typical of groups that want to purify
their number. The group gets smaller and tighter but is doomed to always being
dissatisfied as long as they insist on allowing no dissent...
"Try to heed the sage advice of Gamaliel. When the Sanhedrin
was confronted by the disruptive behavior of the disciples he counseled, 'My
advice to you now is to let these men alone; leave them to themselves. For if
this teaching or movement is merely human it will collapse of its own accord.
But if it should be from God you cannot defeat them, and you might actually find
yourself to be fighting against God!' Benign neglect was what he suggested. But
since the Jewish leaders thought they had a corner on all wisdom, they couldn't
tolerate deviance. And they ended up doing the very thing that Gamaliel warned
against -- opposing God...
"The alternative to deviance is not attractive either. Who
wants to head up a mindless conformity? Sameness has a chilling effect on
progress... As hard as this is, we have the comfort of knowing that our Lord
lived -- and died -- with this approach to deviance. He was unable to see a
crowd; every person was special. He knew them each by name. If he could put up
with a political fanatic (Simon the Zealot), a pair of emotional hotheads
nicknamed the Sons of Thunder (James and John), a man who openly questioned his
resurrection (Thomas), a corrupt tax collector (Matthew) and a money grabber who
betrayed him (Judas), how can we do less? In the long run, it turned out to be a
pretty good group" (Em Griffin, "Getting Together").