Friday, March 8, 2024

The Dumbest Arguments

Suggested Reading: 2 Timothy 2:8-14

When my kids were young, they argued about the dumbest things. They argued about whether bacon is meat or a pig. They argued about whether enchiladas are Mexican food or normal food. They argued about whether or not a jacket qualifies as a coat. Inevitably, one of them would get convinced of a particular position and the other would be convinced of the opposing opinion and they would argue back and forth until the argument escalated into a fight where they both ended up getting their feelings hurt. Most of these arguments sound stupid on their surface and probably amounted to nothing more than semantics. But, at times, it seemed like they just couldn't help themselves.

Unfortunately, as Christians, we often get into arguments with each other that are essentially the same. We argue about whether God knew we were going to sin or whether we sinned on our own. We argue about whether Christ's death on the cross was substitutionary or conciliatory. We argue about whether this sin is tolerable or whether that behavior is acceptable. We argue about whether the Creation account was literal or whether the author intended us to read it figuratively. We argue and we argue and we argue about things that, many times, don't amount to much more than semantics. We stake our salvation on insignificant things that have nothing to do with God's offer of forgiveness through Christ. We argue over stupid things until we rightfully look like fools to a watching world. So often I want to tell arguing Christians the same thing I tell my kids, "It's ok if he calls a jacket a coat! It's ok if you call enchiladas normal food! You're not responsible for what the other person thinks! You are responsible for behaving and for getting along with each other!"

Paul knew the danger that flows from arguing about every little thing. In 2 Timothy 2:14, Paul warned Timothy, "Remind everyone about these things, and command them in God’s presence to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them." (NLT). Some things in Christian theology are worth fighting for. But many of the arguments we get into with other Christians simply are not worth the time and the energy that we put into them. Worse, they do much more harm than good. These silly fights alienate brothers and sisters from each other and drive wedges between us and our partners for the cause of the Gospel; they distract us from the primary goal of reaching a lost and dying world with the love of Christ and cause us to spend all of our energy on a war of words that will ultimately mean very little, if anything.

Hopefully, as my kids grow older, they will learn to pick their battles a little more wisely and argue only about those things that really matter. Hopefully, they will learn to have even those disagreements in a manner that demonstrates they still love each other. But what about the arguments we have with our Christian brothers and sisters? When we get into arguments do we evaluate the significance of the disagreement or do we jump on in regardless of the consequences or the resources we will expend? When we pick an argument, do we carry it out in a spirit of love for each other or are we more concerned with proving that we are "right" and eliminating the other person's "false" perspective?

What have you argued about recently? Have you picked your battles wisely? Or are you wasting precious time and resources on things that don't really matter?

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