Monday, April 6, 2015

No lines in the sand here ......

I mean, seriously.....we can't even agree on which brand of body wash to purchase or whether we should buy creamy or chunky peanut butter. You would think after having been joined at the hip for some 30 years now that we would be finishing each other's sentences, reading each other's mind, and generally be able to communicate telepathically. You would think that after a relationship of 3 decades that Angie and I would agree on every single thing in life. In short, you would think that she would perpetually see things my way and always agree on how I want to do them. But alas, she just hasn't caught on yet. As a result we have to compromise every now and then. As a result we have to bend every now and then. As a result we have to be flexible every now and then. As a result we have to agree to disagree every now and then. As a result we have to remember that even though we are a married couple, that we are still individuals and are just not gonna agree on everything..... no matter how right I am. Pray for her.

Even though my wife and I don't agree on every single thing in life, I still love her. I still respect her. I still want the very best for her. I still wish for her happiness in health, wealth, and mind. I still want to encourage her in all that she does and more than anything else in the entire world I certainly still want her to go to heaven. In relation to the last part of the last sentence, did I mention anywhere above that every now and then she and I even disagree on things that are Biblical. Yep. She reads a particular passage and comes away thinking one thing and I read the same said passage and come away thinking something different. It may not be completely different. It may just be a hairs worth of difference. But, our interpretation is still not 100% in agreement. I know, I know what you are thinking. Just give her time. Sooner or later she will get it right and come over to my side. So until then, here's what I think I will do.....I'm gonna kick her out of the house. Seriously. I'm gonna take all her clothes and all her make-up and all the rest of her stuff and toss it out onto the yard. Yes sir. That will teach her. I will set up a time every few days when she can come visit the kids and that new grand baby of hers. Then, when she finally comes to her senses and sees things the way that I see them, I will restore our relationship the way it once was. That's the way rational people do it. Right?

Now c'mon. How stupid does that sound? (Yes I used the "S" word so don't let your kids read this) Indeed it sounds "the 'S' word", doesn't it? So if it sounds stupid in that scenario then why doesn't it sound stupid in other scenarios as well? Why doesn't the same irrational situation apply when people disagree on how the Bible is to be interpreted? Why doesn't the same idiotic situation apply when people draw combative lines in the sand because one person sincerely believes one thing and another person sincerely believes another thing regarding a passage that may or may not even have anything to do with "matters of salvation". And we aren't talking about disagreeing on the right/wrong on issues like murder and rape. No, we are talking about issues where very Biblical arguments can be made giving good affirmative evidence for the validity of both sides. We are talking about issues that may have as much to do with culture and secular history as it does with what the Bible has to say about it. Sometimes the difference of theology might have to do with what version of the Bible someone is using. Sometimes the difference of theology might have to do with the religious upbringing of someone. Sometimes the difference of theology might have to do with some type of traumatic personal situation of someone's past. Whatever the reason for the difference of theology is, do we seriously, I mean seriously, believe that God intends, desires, commands and expects for us to toss everything from all such relationships onto the proverbial yard and be done with them until they "come to their senses"? (Which of course means believe it the way that I believe it)

Let me answer that one for you. Many folks in the religious world would answer in the affirmative to that last question. They would say "Yes, we are to be done with them until they wise up and begin doing things the way God wants them to". (Which means doing things the way they do them) I was sadly once one of those people. Back in the day I would have no problem "fellowshipping" during the week (work with, play ball with, have meals with, etc) with those who I had religious differences with. During the week they were just one of the guys or one of the gals and we had a big time. But, once Sunday rolled around, somehow they were no longer "one of the guys or one of the gals". No, then all of a sudden they were "one of THOSE guys or one of THOSE gals". You know......the ones who are lost. The ones who are completely in error regarding their interpretation of major passages of Scripture. The ones who are headed down the "broad way". The ones who are going to hell. 6 days a week we were pals. 1 day a week we were enemies. Or at least that's what I gathered from much of the preaching/teaching I heard at various churches. So of course, when I began preaching, like a parrot I began spouting out verbatim much of the venom that I had ingested as a pew baby. For that I have since long ago asked God's forgiveness and have tried to repair the bridges that I have had part in tearing down.

I recently read of a minister whose grandfather had disowned him because of their theological difference of interpretation regarding a Biblical passage. One theological difference. ONE. I gathered from the article that the grandfather and grandson agreed on 99% of what they believed the Bible taught except for one single thing. But, for that grandfather, the one single thing was a serious line in the sand. So serious in fact that the grandfather completely cut off all ties with his grandson. Told him he never wanted to have anything to do with him again. Told his grandson that he was no longer welcome in his home. Told him he never wanted to see or hear from him again....until he changed what he believed on that one thing. THAT ONE THING. I'm sure God is pleased. Not.

There are many, many people in the world that these words will resonate with. And for them.....for you....I am so very sorry. I will also say this about people like the grandfather above. I believe with all my heart that most folks like him are the most well-intentioned and deeply convicted people on the face of the earth. I believe that most folks like the grandfather above do love the very people they push away. I certainly don't agree with those hurtful lines of demarcation drawn in the sand, but as hard as it may be for some to believe, I do believe those who draw the lines are very good people. Sadly, scores of people are pushed away from Jesus by the very people who claim to follow him.

In 2009 I determined that I would no longer be like the grandfather above. Since 2009 I have had many people in my life do things, say things, write things, preach things, and teach things that did not correlate 100% with what I may have believed. But you know what? I didn't draw any lines then.....and I'm not gonna draw any lines now. I figure those people around me are doing just like me. I figure they are doing the best they can with what they know at the time. Now, those things they believe may very well change. They may change because of more study. They may change because of an alteration of life. They may change because of a 1000 other reasons. But, regardless of whether they change over "to my side" or not, as long as they believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior, then they are my brother/sister in Christ. Period. End of story. I also have friends who question the very existence of God. They are not even sure they believe any of the Gospel Story. And you know what? I'm gonna love em. Period. End of story. I'm gonna love em because they are fellow human beings. I'm gonna love em because I know that God loves them whether they love Him or not. I'm gonna love them just the same either way. I will encourage them just the same either way. I figure if there is even an ounce of hope of me being able to proselytize them to Christianity, that it sure won't happen by me drawing lines in the sand. It will only happen by me being nice to them. It will only happen by me trying to understand their views and what circumstances lead them to their views. It will only happen by me, at the very least, sometimes having to simply "agree to disagree". It will only happen by me treating them the way I believe I'm supposed to treat them. You know. The way Jesus would :)

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