The Great Debaters
For a long time, I didn’t write. Not because I didn’t love writing or wasn’t itching to scribble my thoughts on paper, but because I was afraid. I was afraid of cracking open my heart and finding something I didn’t know was there; I was intimidated by all the truly great writers; I was afraid of stepping out from behind a perfected version of myself that I tried to cultivate. But most of all, I was afraid of how people might respond. I was scared that as soon as I posted my thoughts or inadequacies or stories, a Bible-beating Christian would step out from behind his or her corner of the Internet and hurl disparaging comments and insults and contrary passages of Scripture my way. I was afraid of this because I was seeing it happen everywhere. On blogs, Facebook, website storefronts, Christians are belittling other Jesus-followers while declaring that their parenting ways or political beliefs or church principles are wrong and shameful and disturbing.
Eventually I felt like a boiling pot filled with too much water, and I overcame some of my fears about writing, but because I think the best kind of writing comes from a place of honesty, there will always be a deep sense of vulnerability when it comes to this little space. But I don’t think we should have to be afraid of our brothers and sisters in Christ when it comes to opening up our hearts in writing or speaking or preaching. Remember this post? “They ‘had everything in common’ not because their clothes were similar or they lived in the same neighborhood or had kids the same age, but they had everything in common because they responded to the gospel the same way. Because Christ's death and resurrection changed them.” We should strive to have this kind of unity.
And I know I’m only a 23-year old girl stumbling through the everyday, and I have so much to learn about life and people and the power of words, but here’s what I think.
I think it’s healthy to have debates laced with gentleness and kindness and grace. There will always be differing opinions and arguments over theology and feminism and politics; this is good and important. But I also think that any time we allow our “belief system” to disrupt the Gospel’s proclamation, we need to re-evaluate what we believe and why we believe it. Because Jesus, His death and resurrection, His love and mercy and grace, He should be our belief system. He’s not a bullet point on a list of what makes us Christian. Jesus plus nothing equals everything. Without the Good News of Jesus, we are just a bunch of rule-following Pharisees ignoring the name of the Messiah while promoting our own agendas.
I realize that we are imperfect creatures wrought with sinfulness, but what if, instead of being seen as great debaters of theology and semantics and ancient Greek, we were seen as a people who are madly, head-over-heels in love with our Savior? What if we stopped harshly bringing each other down and started loving each other without contingencies-- like a big, dysfunctional family? What if we sang loudly and had a choir of harmonizing voices behind us, screaming encouragement that yes, the Name of Jesus is worth being proclaimed! We wouldn't be singing with identical voices or the same notes, but with the unifying intent to glorify the One who brought us from death to life.
Now that would be something to talk about, something resembling the unity God wants His church to have.
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. –John 17:20-23