Sunday, September 23, 2012

Go Therefore to Argue With All People

Rev. Gavin Richardson shared the above photo on Facebook, and it resonated with me especially in light of the current sermon series at Somers Point.  I love a good argument.  I do not mean yelling, mean-spirited arguments...  I mean talking with people I disagree with over important issues and arguing the different sides.  I desire to be loving about it.  I do not particularly enjoy conflict, but arguing is a bit fun, especially if I think I am winning the argument.

And I get it--most people are not argued into faith; its just not how it works.  So I guess the opposite of arguing people to faith would be... not arguing?  More to the point--we might say people are loved into faith rather than argued into it.  But I remember that Jesus did both a fair bit of engaging through love and actions of mercy... But he also argued a fair bit. 

The important distinction is this:  Jesus tended to argue with people of equal or greater worldly stature and power.  Jesus tended to "love" and "work mercy" with the disenfranchised. 

For instance, if we look at the Woman in John 8 who was "Caught in the very act of adultery" Jesus argued with the religious zealots who were armed with stones--"Let the one among you who is without sin cast the first stone (with whom was she caught one might wonder, and where is he now?)."  Jesus won the argument, they put down their stones and left.  Then to the woman--"Neither do I condemn you... go and sin no more" (words of mercy).

 I have found this true in parenting.  It is sometimes most effective to let my children know they have crossed a line and the time for making war has come.  There there are other times when it seems most effective to patiently respond with grace--the time for making peace has come.

It would seem there is a time for argue (lovingly) and a time to not argue.  How do we decide with whom to debate or argue, and how do we decide to avoid debate and offer mercy and love instead?

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