Tuesday, August 07, 2007

And They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love...Part 2

Well....I cranked the sarcas-o-meter all the way up to 10 last night. It's been a while since I've done that....like, since yesterday morning. No, not really.

Usually, I will try to respond to heated issues with a rational approach. Yesterday, I decided to go with irrational. Well, not exactly irrational so much as poking at someone with a stick. But hey, it's a new day right? I promise not to poke anyone with sticks today....or any other pointy objects.

So, why was I so upset yesterday about the brouhaha over at nakedpastor's? I'll explain.

In life people are always disagreeing about all sorts of things. They will debate about politics, educational systems, whether John or Paul was the coolest Beatle. It doesn't matter what it is, there will always be someone who takes the opposite side in an issue. There will always be heated arguments. No big deal. The issues are not always life or death issues and can eventually be dismissed.

However, within Christianity, when people vehemently disagree, a strange thing begins to happen. Instead of people simply arguing their points and going through the typical motions, some very heavy trump cards begin to be played.

1. The Pharisee/Saducee trump card. This gets used when one group decides that they no longer want to listen to what the other group has to say. It's an ad hominem attack that equates the opposition with the people who actually crucified Jesus. There really is no worse insult in Christianity. It's like calling someone Hitler, in Christian terms.

2. The "It's not me speaking; It's God" trump card. This one is designed to make everyone think twice before countering your argument. After all, who wants to purposely go against God? This is the particular line of reasoning that enables cults and spiritual abuse by leaders. If you get people to feel bad about having questions, doubts or different opinions, they become very easy to manipulate.

3. The "You're-deceived-by-Satan" trump card. This one is a doozy. It can be used effectively against new, immature, open Christians. It implies that even if you find evidence in the Bible that contradicts the argument being presented, you can't trust yourself to understand what it actually means. You are being deceived like the characters in The Matrix, and are incapable of discerning what is true.

4. The "You're-an-agent-of-Satan" trump card. This differs slightly from #3. In number 3 you are a passive agent in Satan's schemes. This trump card means you are actively in bed with him. I mean, really, could you say something worse about someone? It is actually a much worse insult than #1. This is usually the card of last resort. If you refuse to give in to the opposition, and are strong enough not to be manipulated by the other three cards, then this is the one that gets pulled out of the deck.

These are the cards that get played. And that's the point isn't it? They are silly, childish games that are played to win arguments and silence people.

When Jesus ascended into Heaven he gave us The Great Commission; a directive to go out into all the world and preach the gospel...aka...The Good News. The Good News that despite our sinfulness, despite our weaknesses, despite the accusations of our Adversary, we are freely offered love and forgiveness....without merit.

That is our mission and calling. That is what the gospel is.

Spending our time hunting down other believers and whacking them with sticks was not on Christ's agenda. While so much time and energy is wasted in useless arguments and vitriol, there are people who still haven't been offered a cool cup of water in Jesus' name. There are those in prison who haven't been visited. There are the sick who haven't been prayed for. And, there are many who have yet to even hear of the love God has to offer them.

So, I am laying down my stick for right now and will crank down the sarcas-o-meter to a 0.

(....ok more like a 3...I mean, who am I kidding here?)


jovial_cynic said...

Small correction: The thing we call the "great commission" was specifically to make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit.

Of course, you can't very well make a disciple of someone if you don't also deliver the good news... but I figured I'd clarify.

Hey - did you get your washer fixed? I saw that on a previous post... just wanted to know how that was going.

terri said...

Paraphrasing....I assume that Christians know the intent of what I meant so I don't always make exact quotations, unless I am planning on specifically expounding on Scripture.

No, the washer is still broken. We've been using the laundromat. Not convenient, but it could be worse.

jovial_cynic said...

Well, I tend to use the exact quote on that particular passage, because the actual instruction is counter to what many churches preach. Many churches use that passage to mean that we're supposed to convert as many people as possible... but the notion that we are to make disciples indicates that we are simply training up those who already believe; ie., God does the work of convertion, not us.

Anyhow, sucks about the washer. I'm a bit of a do-it-yourself kind of guy... are you positive it's the motor? What'd the folks say when you got it repaired? You can e-mail me directly about the washer, so you don't have to keep coming back to your post to reply about it. jculley -> newprotest.org

terri said...

ahhh...well then that leads into a completely different theological discussion.

Is there such a thing as a believer that isn't also a disciple? Are there two different levels of spirituality. The famous...I accepted Jesus as my Savior and not as my Lord theory.

I don't think I view things that way.

Besides He said to go out into the world...places were there were no believers yet, because they had not yet heard the message.

terri said...

oops...I meant "where"

jovial_cynic said...

I see what you're saying. No, I don't think that there are multiple levels of spirituality. However, Jesus tells his disciples to make more disciples, but he doesn't tell the crowds to make disciples. I don't view this as another level of spirituality, but rather that some are burdened with different obligations. Consider Paul, or John, or Peter... they were tasked with training people up to continue to train people up. I think that's what "discipleship" is, in this context. It's like a perpetuating mentoring program. But not everybody is called nor equipped to handle that specific task. Different giftings, right?

And in that, we're all called to love as Christ loved. There's no difference in spirituality, but simply a difference in assignments.

Jazzki said...

"Difference in assignments"---good point: would explain why I can consistently get gung-ho about my Tabitha work (which I would love to do 24/7, non-stop, forget about showering, sleeping, grocery-shopping, eating), but I have zero enthusiasm about evangelizing.