Tactics and Tools

Letting God Take the Heat

Author Alan Shlemon Published on 05/01/2016

Over the last decade as a Stand to Reason speaker, I’ve been yelled at, cursed at, and even threatened. Somehow, though, I haven’t yelled back, cursed back, or threatened anyone. In fact, I respond to such attacks in a rather calm way. How do I keep my cool? Here’s my secret: I let God take the heat.

It’s a principle that’s based on the recognition that God is our King and we are His children. He’s in charge and we’re His followers. As we live our lives, we abide by His commands and proclaim His message. If people get upset with what I’m saying or doing, I point them to God. I show them that I’m simply following God’s commands or saying what He says is true. That way I absolve myself of the responsibility and put the “blame” where it belongs: on God.

To be clear, I’m not talking about being a jerk for Jesus. If you come across as harsh, offensive, or condescending, then the problem is with you. You’re at fault, and you deserve what’s coming. You can’t pass the blame onto God. In those cases, you need to repent of your action and adopt biblical ideas.

I’m talking about times when you are faithful to the teachings of Scripture. If you’re attacked in those situations, then let God take the heat. Don’t take it personally. Though they may be mad at you for what you’re saying or doing, remember that you’re representing God and they’re really mad at Him. When I see things this way, it helps me to avoid getting upset with the person, which, in turn, helps me not retaliate.

For example, when I say that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, sometimes people get angry and claim I’m narrow-minded. Even though I feel uneasy when that happens, I try to remember to let God take the heat. After all, Scripture teaches there’s only one way to Heaven, not me. That’s why, in this case, I point them to what Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). If they have a problem with that idea, they need to take it up with Christ, not me. I let Him take the heat by directing them to His words.

I also find my blood boils when I’m described as a bigot because of my teaching on homosexuality. Although I’m ready with a witty, but obnoxious retort, I’m thankful the Holy Spirit intercedes. He reminds me that God designed humans to function heterosexually and He declared homosexual behavior a sin. That’s when I let God take the heat. Instead of losing my cool, I remember I’m representing God’s principles and simply point them to Matthew 19:1–6. In this passage, Jesus summarizes the biblical model for sex and marriage as occurring only between a married man and woman. In other words, I hold a view on this topic because it’s Jesus’ view. People upset with my view need to address the source of my belief—Jesus—and take it up with Him.

Not in every instance do I point someone to Scripture or even say anything. Most times I simply remind myself that their anger is ultimately a result of God’s position on a matter. Whether I’m talking about the Gospel, homosexuality, Islam, evolution, abortion, or other topics, I try to let God take the heat. That way, I’m not inordinately burdened or tempted to respond with malice.

Letting God take the heat helps prevent three problems.

  1. It helps prevent pride. When you think people’s objections or anger are a result of your thinking, you’re taking credit for God’s principles and ideas. Although you may convey biblical ideas, the responsible party is God, not you. You’re merely an ambassador and your job is to proclaim God’s message in a clear and gracious manner. As Jesus said, “No servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him” (John 13:16). Stay humble by keeping a proper perspective of who is really the author of the truth you’re communicating.
  2. It helps prevent unnecessary stress. When people are upset with me, I feel responsible. I’ve done something wrong or said something that made them angry. That’s stressful. The reality, though, is that they’re probably upset with God (whether they acknowledge it or not). He demands people submit to Him and His ideas. Since that’s not a popular concept, it’s understandable people get upset with Him. The benefit of letting God take the heat is that you don’t burden yourself with the responsibility of thinking you’re the problem.
  3. It helps prevent a revengeful attitude. If you know people are upset with God’s principles and not your own, then you’re less likely to get back at them. Scripture reminds us: “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is Mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). I’m not suggesting you don’t respond. Rather, your response is less likely to be motivated by retaliation and more by clarification. After all, God’s responsible for the ideas and you’re responsible for clearly and graciously conveying them.

The point is not to memorize my responses. It’s to remember the principle to let God take the heat. After all, He’s God. It’s His problem. He’s the Savior. Let Him bear the burden. Jesus even reminds us that “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first” (John 15:18). He’s the ultimate problem for people who won’t submit to Him. At the same time, we should strive to not draw unnecessary anger on ourselves. Paul notes, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). One way to do that is to let God take the heat.