Tuesday, February 16, 2016


How we view the other side

Why do we spend so much time trying to convince others of the rightness of our position?
Why do we spend so much time trying to convince others of the wrongness of their position?

Yes, that is the same question from two perspectives. Hopefully, you get the point.

Why do political conservatives spend their energy trying to show the wrong-headed notions of the liberal? Why do the liberals spend their energy trying to show the same about conservatives?

I’ve been watching this for years now, and with the ubiquity of Facebook, I now have a new lens through which to view the action much more closely.

What I have observed over the course of the last 10 years is that nothing has changed—at least as far as the point I am making.

We’ve gone through the end of the Bush era and are finishing up the Obama era. The former a conservative, the latter a liberal.

Their proponents and opponents have essentially remained unchanged.

To be sure, there are some—not a significant majority, mind you—who are saddened with the results of Mr. Obama. But, they have not flopped over to the conservative ranks as a result.

How many of you have been persuaded by the rhetoric of the opposite side? Please raise your hand.

I’m waiting.

I thought so.

Please allow me to bring this closer to the home in which I dwell.

Why do Christians spend so much of their energy trying to convince others of their wrong-headed beliefs?

For one thing, you have precious little biblical support for such an activity.

Are you without sin? Then feel free to cast your stones. (Jn. 8:7)

Have you removed that which blocks your clear vision? Then feel free to try to help others see. (Matt. 7:5)

Until then, though, you had best be working on yourself rather than on others. (Matt. 5:48)

I have a few atheists on my “friends” list on Facebook, along with a couple of deists and plenty of Christians of all stripes, colors, and flavors.

One of the atheists posted something that quite offended me at first.

As I prayed about a response to this sort of nonsense, I was reminded of Paul’s statement in Romans 8:7—“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”

I have often decried the practical atheism rampant within the church. This gave me an opportunity to either join with the Christian practical atheists, or to abide by the Word.

I chose the latter.

Did I choose correctly?

There are many who would disagree with me. There are others who would applaud me.
I care not for either.

I am still trying, after all these years to fulfill Eph 5:10—“trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”

Putting the Word into a context in which I can apply it on a regular daily basis has been paramount for me since the beginning of my walk with the Lord. I have probably missed it more than I have nailed it, but that doesn’t stop me from desiring “the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14)

Why do we put so much energy into trying to persuade others of our position?

Could it be that we are not secure in ours, and that we need to have others join us so that we not walk alone?

While that is certainly a possibility, it is probably not a conscious one.
Maybe even the probability is far removed from reality.

I think it is more the result of bad teaching—or the lack thereof.

When we try to correct someone’s thinking, we are essentially attacking their position, regardless of how polite we are in doing so.

An attack, by its nature, engenders a response—fight or flight.

To try to correct someone’s thinking is counter-productive at best.

They are forced to defend their position. Defense, by its nature is a strengthening maneuver.

Your attack has caused them to strengthen their position.
Is that what you wanted?
Probably not.

What, then, is the answer?

First of all, there is no way I can be so glib as to give a “one-size-fits-all” response. Every situation is different, and there are some who read my thoughts only to pose an exception.

I will state it this way—I don’t imagine that an attack feels like love to the one being attacked.

Among all the characteristics of love listed in the Love Chapter of 1 Corinthians 13, I cannot find a single one that could be applied nor twisted to mean “go on the offense against wrong-headed notions.”

In fact, Peter tells us the opposite is true—“Have fervent love among yourselves, for love shall cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Pet. 4:8)

Many will quote Jude 1:3—“… that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” as proof that we should do exactly what I am speaking against.

However, I encourage you to read the entire epistle before making that judgement. (It’s only 25 verses, so it shouldn’t take you too long.)

You will notice that no strategy is given for contending for the faith other than reminding his readers that the Lord would come to “execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 1:15)

The fact of the matter is that his exhortation to “contend for the faith” is not about waging war against others, but fighting for yourself that you don’t be deceived into following them into the abyss of deception. (2 Cor. 10:5)
(Read it again if you can't see that.)

Beloved, let me urge you to give up trying to convince others of their misguided notions.

Instead, make sure that all your notions can stand within the spotlight of scripture, and that you will be able to stand before the Lord “without spot or wrinkle.” (Eph. 5:27)

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