Give Yourself to Others …

Posts Tagged ‘debates

Like many people, I’ve probably read 1 Corinthians 13, a thousand times.  The description of “love” by Paul, is beautifully inspiring.  I often read it when I perform weddings.

On a side note, the old King James Version translation of agape as “charity” is probably a better translation than “love.”  But that’s a topic for another time.

What I’ve missed in the thousands of times I’ve read 1 Cor 13 are the first three verses (this is from The Message):

13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

2 If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Am I the only one who missed this?

I can be the smartest person in the world.  I can understand everything … even the greatest mysteries about God … I may have so much faith that I can perform miracles … I can be the most generous person in the world.

And if all of this is true, but I’m not loving others, the way Jesus loved me, then it’s all pointless.

If we are not loving towards one another, we’ve missed the whole point from Jesus.

Think about that, the next time you argue about doctrine!

Isn’t that a great question!

And it applies whether, you’re a life long believer or a young skeptic.  The question also has the power to change the nature and substance of a conversation.  For a big part of my life, I was easily engaged in what I know see as pointless debates over doctrine or interpretation of some myopic detail in the Text of the Bible.  Did it really matter?  No

Next time you get into a heated conversation or debate, be sure to ask what really matters.

Jesus said that what really matters is loving one another the way he loved us.  After that, most other things pale into insignificance.

I don’t want you to misunderstand the point I’m about to make.  I agree there is value is discussion about the meaning to the Text.  It’s an important part of growing in understanding and maturity of our faith.

But, I also believe there is a limit to such value.  Often this limitation becomes even stronger as the vigor of any given position increases.  Here’s why:

In an ultimate sense, when we debate/discuss what the Text means, we are debating what the proper doctrine should be.  Another way to say that is “we’re debating what is right and what is wrong.”  In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with that, but such discussions often lead us to judge the faith of other believers.

And the Text itself says we should not be judging the faith of other believers, only God is their judge.

After all, to condemn someone with whom I disagree on some doctrinal matter is to disregard two things:

  1. it is tantamount to imposing a new law on someone, when Jesus repeated said he came to do away with Law as an approach to finding righteousness before God.
  2. by implication, it says what God has forgiven me of is less significant than what he has forgiven you of — which is an absurd position.
After all, “we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  So, it is irrelevant that God may have forgiven me of different things than he’s forgiven you of.
We are both forgiven.  And we’ve both been forgiven a lot.
And that forgiveness is evidence of how much God loves us.  And Jesus said we’re to love the way he loved us.  If that is the standard, then what doctrinal view is it that you might hold that would make me not love you and try to treat you with as much love as Jesus did?
There should be nothing that can separate you from me — because there is nothing that can separate you from the love of God.
That is the limit of doctrinal debates.

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