Principle #5: When it comes to defending doctrine, choose your battles.
I know nothing save Jesus Christ and him crucified…1 Corinthians 2:2
“Read me a story, Grandpa,” said Snout.
“I would be happy to read you a story,” said Grandpa. “This is one of my favourites. I wrote it myself.”
Once upon a time there was a guy named Floyd. Floyd was lonely and purposeless, until one day when he gave his heart to Jesus Christ. He began to make friends with other people who had made the same decision to follow Jesus. One day, he was reading the bible with one of these new friends and made a discovery. He didn’t agree with his friend on one of the bible scriptures.
“It’s triangular,” said Floyd.
“No, it’s circular,” said Fred.
In an effort to solve the problem, Floyd and Fred went to the others to ask what they thought. They had slightly different ideas about this particular scripture. For example, Fanny said, “diamond,” and Finkelman said, “square.” Nobody would budge from their viewpoint. In order to avoid confusion, they all decided it was best if they didn’t work together. Floyd, like his friends, went off on his own to tell others what Jesus had done for him.
Floyd shared his triangular position with other believers, explaining why he was against the circle, diamond and square positions. As time went by he grew irritated with Fred, Fanny and Finkelman for misleading people with their twisted understanding of the triangle scripture. He would warn people away from his former friends and was relieved when people listened to him.
When Floyd had reached the height of his spiritual walk with Jesus, he spent all his time interpreting the scriptures for others. This is good, because Floyd was right, after all. He had an obligation to point out the fatal flaws of others.
Grandpa snapped the book shut, and rubbed his horns with satisfaction. “The end,” he said, with a devilish look in his eye. “Divide and conquer, that’s my philosophy.”
—-Adapted from a comic strip entitled “The Unified Body,” by Kent Bulmer.
How many of us have been Floyd? (My hand is way up.)
I started off with Jesus alone, a girl saved out of a secular family. I watched Billy Graham on television in grade nine and wanted what he was offering. I talked to Jesus in my bed that night, and it was the beginning of a lifelong journey with my Creator. I didn’t actually start going to church until I was an adult, and I was surprised to observe the pride “churchy” people took in their denominational stripe. Sometimes they spoke derisively of other churches. I vowed never to do that, to only identify myself as a Christian. Somehow I turned into Floyd anyway–there were times in my journey when I got fixated on what I thought was the right thing to do or to believe and times when I looked down on others who didn’t think my way. I was trying to get my value out of believing, saying and doing the right thing, being the first to recognize the real truth.
There are a lot of footpaths leading off the main road. A lot of rabbits huddle in the ditches. They dare you to chase them, and before you realize it, you’ve got lost out in the woods and kept Jesus waiting for a very long time. He taps his foot on the dusty road, sends his angels out to look for you and drag you back.
I guess all of my so-called “principles” have had a common theme…we focus on unimportant stuff in the West because we have the luxury of relative wealth and freedom of speech. We can do whatever we want, so we do nothing, or take immense pride in what we do. Christianity becomes just an interesting theological argument that you debate with your buddies over a bottle of wine…er, grape juice.
Until trauma hits you…sickness or death or abandonment or poverty or persecution, and then we throw ourselves in desperation on the mercy of God and remember what the Christian walk is supposed to be…it’s not a victorious quest you conquer alone, or an argument that you spend your life winning. It’s a walking tour for two, you and Jesus.
“I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land,” Psalm 143:6.
How long has it been since you recognized your intense thirst? Because that, friends, is the power of Christianity. Jesus is the water that satisfies all other needs, including the need to be right. And if you are drinking that water, everyone around you will want it.