For three days it’s been troubling me, eating at me, and I have to say it: Some questions in this world do not have a definite answer. There are many valuable opinions on many subjects, even those of faith, which is why in a social, small-talk setting, you’re not supposed to discuss religion or politics. Stay away, because there are those who think they know everything, and if you don’t agree with them, you’re just flat-out wrong, pagan, going straight to Hell and I hope you burn on the way, heretical idiots.
I’m sorry, but in this world, there are a lot of questions that do not have answers. I still believe there are definite right and wrong, but I think there are a lot more things that aren’t so clear. I’m not a moral relativist; I’m a realist.
I confess, I’m a recovering know-it-all. There have been many times when I’ve wanted to show everyone how smart and full-of-faith I am by having the answer to every question there is. But face it:
* There isn’t always an answer here on earth.
* I don't know everything - and I'm actually okay with that.
* I am not God – nor do I want to be, nor do you want me to be – and so my pronouncements are no more valid than yours or anyone else’s.
* High-minded, arrogant ideas and stubborn clinging to one’s own “rightness” tend to go out the window when one realizes that each individual (even if he’s a liberal, God forbid) is of great worth to God and the Kingdom, and preaching how wrong he is isn’t going to help him a jot.
Recently I let myself be dragged into a fairly stupid discussion-slash-argument. It started over a matter of opinion – and irony – and turned into a slugfest, complete with arrogant assertions and calling into question the original writer’s salvation, believe it or not, over a statue. Anyone who didn’t agree with our arrogant friend was obviously a heretic – though I believe my own comments on the matter were considered too far beneath his supreme intelligence to even be acknowledged. Just as well. I looked him up and learned a little about him, including his new faith, young marriage, and current seminary enrollment. I have read many of his own internet posts and find much of what he writes for himself thorough, well-researched, and well-spoken, though a bit heavy-handed and dogmatic at times. However, it’s when someone else has a differing opinion that he seems to dissolve into name-calling. Sad.
It’s not the lively discussion that irritates me as much as the arrogance and name-calling. I know of few people who have come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ because they were shouted down in a discussion by a Christian. If I blatantly and repeatedly tell people that they are stupid and that their opinions, feelings and beliefs are invalid, and that they're flat-out wrong, they seldom wish to share the joy I claim to have in Christ and the communion with the Saints. You can catch a lot more flies with honey than with your self-righteous arrogance stick. Showing people you care about them is a lot more effective than showing them how superior you are.
I can only hope that said arrogant seminarian meets a few actual people before he takes his first pastorate and learns to care. And then I sit back and thank some people who taught me that loving my neighbor is a lot more important than always winning the argument: Kevin, Mikki, Michelle, Angela, Anne, Andrea, Masha, Jason, and yes, even Lu. May I always remember humility before my pride gets in the way.
Philippians 2:1-4: “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”