People fascinate me.
Stories fascinate me.
Listening to people tell me their story fascinates me.
I am intrigued by what makes each one of us different.
I wonder what shaped you? Who shaped you? What drove you to be who you are today?
Unfortunately, once you start to get a feel for who this person is you also get to hear some things from this person that you really don’t like, or is different from you. It really gets interesting when you find out that this person believes differently than you. This often leads to some heated conversation.
Why? Why are there tensions created when you meet someone who believes something different from your beliefs? Why do people feel like they have to argue about every single aspect of Christianity?
I’m “friends” on Facebook with a lot of people who believe differently than I do. A few are merely acquaintances. A few I know well. Two of those friends recently caused quite an argument on Facebook. The details are not really important (here at least), what happened in the aftermath is.
As it always seems to happen… people get 10 ft. tall and bulletproof when they are in the comfort and security of their home and armed with a keyboard.
They raised their verbal (written) fists.
Both threw punches.
And the watching Facebook world… watched… and judged.
It was like watching the freshman preacher boys in the dorm back in the day when I was a student at Liberty University. Every Fall you would hear a new batch of them arguing about things that have no eternal significance, but were trying their best to prove to everyone who would listen that they were right. They would say that they were not arguing but they were just explaining why they were right.
It usually took these preacher boys about a year or so of studying Theology for them to realize that they really didn’t have a clue and there were many more acceptable answers to the same questions they were so desperately trying to prove as Freshman.
My two friends were having a “discussion” on Facebook and everything would have been fine if it stayed in the “discussion mode”. But like many “discussions” it didn’t. At first, they slightly disagreed. But within 15 minutes, one of my friends was declaring the other a heretic. Now… it should be noted that both of these friends declare themselves as believers… Christians. They were arguing about issues that actually had nothing to do with leading people to Christ.
As their discussion crossed the 60-minute mark, and their Facebook feeds fully flushed with arguments and disagreements, I realized that they were no longer simply stating opinion. They were positioning themselves to win the argument, dismissing any counter points no matter whether they agreed or not. They were in this fight to be crowned the person most in the right. And it didn’t feel good.
This silly argument left me thinking: What is it about human beings that leaves us needing to be right, needing to get the last word in no matter what? Regardless of the cost. Regardless of the people who were reading their hateful, hurtful banter.
Sure enough… some people would message me over the course of my two friends argument and comment about how these two well-meaning people had done more to harm to the cause of Christ then they would ever know. One would walk away the “winner”… winning the argument but losing the war.
I can’t say that I have always been innocent of getting involved in “discussions” that turn into arguments. But as I have grown older, I am not the guy to argue theology anymore. For those of you that do not know, I am educated and trained in Bible theology… and I can argue with the best of them. But I also know that I don’t have all the answers and I don’t wear my education on my sleeve. I don’t have to prove to anyone what I believe. Over time I have realized that more damage has been done arguing over things that mean nothing to the cause of Christ. I know what I believe and I am not swayed by anyone wanting to argue the tenets of Calvinism or the pros and cons of the KJV or just about any aspect of Christianity. I’ve learned the hard way to stay as far away from the arguing as I can. I have seen too much damage done in the process of being “right” and I have never witnessed anyone say, “Wow… that argument completely changed my fundamental belief system!” or like Phillip Yancey stated:
“No one ever converted to Christianity because they lost the argument.”
No one “wins” in these debates and arguments. People get hurt. Words cut like the knife from both sides. No one drops their sword and advances the Kingdom. I might go so far as to say we retreat the Kingdom. We need to be able to explore the tension and not do so with our verbal fists raised. We need to ask the questions, receive the answers all the while drinking a large mug of grace.
Because the watching world… watches… and judges.