Daily Archives: January 23, 2014

Dialogue, not Debate

As Christians, we need to step back and let the Spirit of God work.

by Susan Irene Fox

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? John 14:2

With about 40 major divisions of belief in Christianity (according to Wikipedia), and about 40,000 denominations within those, how do Christians ever hope to agree on the definition of Christianity – and God’s purpose for us here on earth?

OM has graciously agreed to allow me his space on Harsh Reality to ruminate about this over the next couple of weeks. For those of you who are not Christians, or who may be and don’t call yourselves such, I ask you to bear with me. There may be food for thought here for you as well. Or certainly an opinion or two you may want to share.

We as Christians have argued about theology since the Jerusalem Council. We continue to have debates and disagreements about tenets and dogma and doxology. Some of that disagreement is commendable. You cannot worship a God you do not know, or serve a God when you do not know what He requires.

However…how long is your list of non-negotiable items? Does your list fit what Scripture actually says? Have you taken the time to look for yourself? Are you standing outside the box inside which you have put God? Have you puffed yourself up to be bigger than the God who created you?

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me that there is quarreling among you. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” 1 Corinthians 1:10-13

Are the debatable nuances of your theology truly important enough that they are applicationally relevant to the lives we are called to lead?

When we show ourselves to be mean-spirited and accusatory, closed-minded and judgmental, arrogant and divisive, do we attract people to God? Do we illustrate the love and humility of Jesus?  Do we reveal the Holy Spirit at work in our lives? The best way to evangelize is to create a deep desire in others that the Creator and Christ are real.

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 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.” John 17:17-18, 20-21

Our call is not to convert people – it is to make disciples. And for most people, discipleship is not a snap decision; it’s lifelong process. We need dialogue, not debate. We need to plant seeds of love and let God harvest the hearts of others.

I’ll end on a note for us all – a quote from the apostle Peter, who Jesus called his rock, and who became the leader of the church in Rome – in effect, the first pope.

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil with evil or insult for insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit God’s blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9)

This post can also be found at www.susanirenefox.com