One of the things I like about blogs is that they allow for dialog. One of the things I dislike about blogs is that they allow for dialog. I may know that with the good comes the bad, but I don’t have to like it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind disagreement. This side of glory, disagreement is unavoidable, even among God-loving brothers and sisters. In fact, it’s through thinking through ideas in the context of dialog and sometimes even disagreement that I often find great clarity. It’s almost as if iron sharpens iron or something. But what I don’t like is that so few people actually know how to disagree.
You get some people, that, it doesn’t matter what the blog post is even about, you just know they will show up and disagree, because they are right and everyone else is wrong. Always. You know the people: they will always have the last word. Even when you try to ignore them they will post comments based off of their own blog comments. The problem with many of these people is that they seem to have misunderstood and misapplied Ephesians 4:15‘s admonition regarding “speaking the truth in love.” You see, it seems to some of us that the only way to show love is by pounding people with the truth. It’s easy for me to sometimes forget that, how I say things is important, along with what I say. Many of us, though simply think that the banner of truth justifies all kinds of verbal atrocities.
Is it possible to be right and still be a contentious person? Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:16: “If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.” In 2 Timothy 2:24, Paul warns: “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil.” I wonder if it’s possible to be right and be quarrelsome? I think that, not only is it possible, it is common. In Philippians 2, Paul makes the audacious statement that we are to consider others more significant than ourselves. I think that this doesn’t just mean shouting the truth at someone but treating them with respect and even love, even when we disagree. I certainly have a long way to go in this area, but I think it’s one area in which we all need to examine, not just our statements but our hearts. There is a way to disagree in humble, loving confidence. Loving those you disagree with does not mean pandering to their position but it does mean speaking in love.
But, on the other end of the spectrum, we have the people who take the time and effort to comment on blogs, in the midst of an ongoing discussion, to tell all the participants that the devil is having a good laugh while we just tear each other down and that, if we all just read our Bibles and focused on Jesus, there would be no need for any such discussions. What always cracks me up about these comments is that they are guilty of exactly what they are decrying. But I guess my point of consideration here is more on the fact that, disagreement, discussion, even debate, are not, in and of themselves (that’s a lot of commas, sorry), signs that the Devil has gained a foothold or that we don’t love Jesus. Truth is important business and if we believe that there is such a thing as Truth, we ought to be pursuing it and examining the positions and statements of others in light of Scripture. Dialog can actually be quite healthy, encouraging us to think of positions in ways we might not have otherwise, even when we don’t change our initial position, our conviction is often strengthened by being forced to examine and defend it.
Yet, why is it so often the case that those of us who often claim to most love the Lord are simply so mean to one another?