In today’s chapters, we read over and over again about the Pharisees trying to trap Jesus contradicting himself and the Bible. Jesus keeps his cool, effortlessly tossing heart-piercing responses over his shoulder. He doesn’t engage in arguments with them, he doesn’t get flustered when he’s ganged up on, he doesn’t jockey for power or authority among them. Most of the time he just asks them a pointed question.
The one time the Bible records Jesus losing it is when people are being spiritually abusive. The people outside the temple are misrepresenting God and taking advantage of the vulnerable in the name of personal gain. (My commentary notes that often travelers would be passing through and wouldn’t have the animal they needed to make a sacrifice, so instead of serving them to God’s people, these people were trying to turn a profit.)
What a perfect example Jesus is to us. He never asks us to fight his battles for him, even among other believers. He wants us to understand the gospel and be ready to give an answer, but I don’t read anything here about endlessly arguing on social media about gun laws and bathrooms.
I’ve made a couple rules that help me behave myself, you’re welcome to borrow them:
- Don’t argue with someone simply to advance myself. I broke this rule just last night, in a casual conversation with a good friend where I just wanted her to know I was right about a really non-important topic. Sigh.
- Speak up when God is being misrepresented; not questioned. It’s okay, and actually really healthy, to wonder things about God aloud. Leave space for that in conversations. I pipe up when people claim blatantly wrong things about God. (My triggers are prosperity gospel and shaming, watch out.)
- Allow people to disagree with you. This is the mark of immense health and maturity. My friend Alan does this perfectly. His opinions are coated in humility, held with an open palm, yet unwavering to social pressure. Most importantly, he isn’t quick to offer his opinion, he often waits until someone asks. This is beautiful! (And goes against everything in my nature.)
“..and if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way.” 1 Peter 3:15
As Christians, we are to represent God to the world. We are pretty exclusively called to do this with our actions, yet be prepared to give an answer if someone asks.
Is it just me, or is that really hard?