There was a time when I had just a touch of fiery Bible college student in me.
While I can’t put exact dates to this, I remember it well. I’d roll in and out of discussions with my theology gun cocked and ready spray apologetic bullets at the first hint of an opinion I considered un-Biblical. Sure, I justified it by firing off with a smile and saying I was simply delivering the truth, you know, standing up for Jesus, but reality I was accomplishing much more than giving myself a high-five.
It kind of sucked being that guy.
Not just because of the potential relationships my only self-appreciated quick wit cost me, but also because I don’t think that’s the type of person God wanted me to be.
Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m supposed to be fully prepared to defend the Gospel in which I believe. I just don’t that defense has to be played through quickly tossed snarky words. In fact, sometimes the best defense might not include any words at all.
I was reading in the 12th chapter of Romans this week about the marks of a Christian. The 18th verse really stuck out to me.
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
I just got thinking about all the discussions, or probably more accurately labeled, “arguments,” I’d been in with people who thought differently than me. All the times I’d sacrificed living peacefully with another human to make sure “my” point was proven, and all the times those relationships were tender at best ever after.
I’ve failed many times to live peacefully, and most of those times, it really did depend on me.
Living peacefully isn’t easy. In fact, I think it’s a lot easier to draw hard lines in the sand between yourself and those whom with you disagree, than it is to co-exist in peace.
Now I’m not saying there isn’t a time and place for those hard lines, but we should be very careful when choosing them because as much as the line may keep us away from the “bad,” but it will most likely keep the other person away from the “good.”
There is no shortage of hot topics out there for us to get all worked up about. From evolution to same-sex marriage to women preachers to style of worship, there is no shortage of areas in which we can choose to separate ourselves from others.
But really, what good comes from that separation? What good comes from driving harsh words between us and others? And most importantly, how does that demonstrate Jesus’ love?
If we win the debate, but totally screw up the relationship with the person in the process, what did we really win?
I’m not saying we shouldn’t stand up for our beliefs and I’m not saying we shouldn’t stand up for Jesus.
I’m just saying that for me, sometimes the best way to stand up for Jesus might be to shut up for Jesus.