When To Let It Ride: Navigating Spiritual Controversy

There’s an historic debate over if, or when, it’s ever appropriate to pray for your favorite sports team to win. The wrinkle here is that, invariably, someone on your rival’s side is asking the same God for a different outcome. When people on opposing sides of a critical issue both invoke Divine support of their cause, we have a problem. Either God is one on side or the other, or, as is the case more often than not, neither. Who’s to know who is right? And when? 


There a case study on spiritual conflict in Acts 5. The first followers of Jesus were preaching their message publicly in Jerusalem. The current religious establishment was rattled by their content and their style. The ruling religious council was debating how to shut down these theological rebels. 


After some discussion, one of their esteemed teachers, Gamaliel, said this, “… in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”


When in doubt, says Gamaliel, let it ride. God has an amazing track record of letting things that don’t reflect His heart flame out. History is littered with ideas, ideologies, groups, revolts and causes that ran out of steam and faded into oblivion. They were human endeavors, fueled by human egos for largely human ends. And, like humans, they were mortal.


God is eternal and immortal. God’s wisdom, compassion and truth give birth to ideas that go the distance. In short, if something isn’t from God, you don’t have to stop it. If it is, you can’t stop it anyway. Sometimes it can be unnerving not to know what the answer is. The good news is: God hasn’t called us to police it. He invites us to trust Him and pursue Him. And, like Gamaliel, know that if someone appears (to you anyway) to be jumping the rails, God will work it out.

Craig Custance