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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:15-16 ESV)

No. I will not agree with you, fellow believer, simply to avoid a debate. Debate is good among those who believe. Debate is what institutions of higher learning should be all about. Doctrine is thereby purged, tried, and strengthened as spiritually mature men and women genuinely interested in rightly dividing the Word of truth study to show themselves approved unto God (2 Timothy 2:15). Exegesis is work and not science. God is an infinite continuum of possibility. Who is foolish and conceited enough to believe that only one point of view can encompass the totality of God’s mind or explain His ways exhaustively when His thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9)?

We need to repent of thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to think (Romans 12:3). The government of the United States and church leadership alike would do well to remember that it is much more mature and productive to intelligently argue a point respectfully instead of drawing lines in the sand, refusing to acknowledge the validity of opposing views, and labeling those who don’t fully agree with us imbeciles, heretics, and fools. We seemed to be more forgiving communicators, more forgiving and respectful of others, prior to adolescence than we are now as adult disciples of Christ. How can this be? There is much to be said for the productivity of early church councils such as those which took place in Nicaea and Constantinople. Do we really need another twenty-thousand Protestant denominations in America today? How do people with opposing worldviews view such disharmony, finger pointing, and angst among those of us who profess to be disciples of Jesus Christ? Jesus prayed that we be one as Father and Son are one within the godhead (John 17:21-23)? In what hour will Christ’s church expend at least some effort toward caring enough to participate in answering this prayer of unity? Is there more than one Lord, one faith, and one baptism (Ephesians 4:5)? God forbid.

Lord, help me to build more bridges than I burn during this stage of my earthly imperfection. Help me to seek Your face with sincerest humility while respecting those who might never see as I see, hear as I hear, or believe as I believe. Help me to cherish those who challenge and refine my trust in You and the purity of Your holy Word. You have commanded me to love my neighbor as myself and to regard the entire world, not only those who agree with me, as my neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40). Help me to bear the discomfort of rejection, sneering, and scoffing I am sure to endure as I wait confidently upon You, Heavenly Father, in Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.

© 2009 Brian L Hunter


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