How to argue as a Christian without looking like a jerk

Mark 12
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without love

When we’re walking around in public, us Christians are as meek as a mouse, but it’s obvious we’re downright nasty on social media and other public forums.

I’m all for standing upon the tenets of the Bible, however archaic the general public might perceive them, but man, where’s the salt?  It seems we’re often either completely tactless and flavorless, or we’re so spicy that we lose friends.

And then when we lose friends, we call it persecution like it was all their fault in the first place.

People notice this stuff, and it’s time for a change.  That stigma of Christians being a little nasty isn’t a good thing, especially if it has nothing to do with love and a lot to do with self-righteousness.  We have been told through Scriptures that we’ll be hated for the sake of Christ, but that doesn’t mean we’re entitled to be jerks.

I’d like you to take a quick look at Jesus’ approach in this chapter, which is really no approach at all. The penultimate example of submission and humility is on display in a showdown between the religious leaders and Jesus only days before His death and subsequent resurrection.

 

Aggression is good when it comes to doing things like heading to the gym or making business decisions.  It’s important to be assertive if we expect to be taken seriously.

But love isn’t aggressive — it isn’t overbearing, burdensome, and arrogant, no matter how much “justice” we’re attempting to dispense.

Jesus has made numerous allusions to being the Son of God, and frankly it’s been irritating the religious leaders. They arrive to “trap Jesus in His words” — I’m sure you already know how that went down.  What I found interesting is how often Christians look like the religious leaders rather than Jesus. Let’s see what the difference is.

Jesus doesn’t bring it up. At all.

The religious leaders start all of the arguments; Jesus simply responds to each one they set on the table. Each time Jesus is approached, He allows the other party to explain their entire argument. Because He’s God, He is able to perceive their intentions, which explains why He is put off by their behavior initially, but He does address the questions tactfully and answers thoroughly.

When it comes to pointless arguments, the religious leaders are experts.

I confess, I am quite skilled at bringing up sensitive subjects and irritating people. But I’ve got nothing on these guys.

If you read through the chapter, you’ll find out that the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes bring up some subjects that are sort of non-topics, culturally speaking (there is certainly modern relevance in each, but they present their issues in the context of Jewish law). The scribe seems to be good-intentioned in the end, but He might have accompanied the other guys early on.

People love to bring up petty Bible nuances — it makes for good fodder for the skeptic folk and divides Christians, usually down the middle, but really does nothing else.  It’s not the Christian’s job to start fires and frustrate people. We must show restraint — sometimes, that means not commenting on that controversial post or tweet and stirring it up.

His concern is not with the sinners, but the religious teachers.

Much of the gospels cover a couple of major themes: Jesus healing and ministering to the sick and poor, and Jesus having some incredible arguments with the religious leaders. He doesn’t have a beef with the sinners — the difference is that they already know their decrepit state. The stuffy scribes and leaders have no idea how bad they really are.

When you’ve decided you have a firm grip on your religious knowledge and you’re too proud to admit imperfection, you are well on your way to being a great, annoying prude.

Sacrifice is greater than lofty knowledge

Knowing lots of stuff is nice. Using it to appear intelligent is obnoxious. This should be pretty clear, but it’s incredible how many Christians tout their religious knowledge in public internet forums to appear intelligent.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ time were trying to be tricky with their words. In one case, Jesus calls out one of them for lacking knowledge of the Scriptures, even though the man brought up a remote concept buried in the annals of Jewish law.

Meanwhile, a poor widow brings her sacrifice to the temple, and Jesus is loving it.  She didn’t say a word — in fact, nothing is said of her personal character or knowledge whatsoever — but Jesus reveres her as a woman who has sacrificed greatly.

This world is waiting for Christians to shut up and do something, to do some walking instead of talking. We mustn’t do our deeds to be seen by men, but it’s no secret that many people are not seeing any activity from us, other than being loud and critical of others. I suppose this blog is somewhat hypocritical in nature, but I’d like to see some mobilization, wouldn’t you?

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