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Posts Tagged ‘controversy’

Batik by Hanna Cheriyan Varghese, Malaysia

Sometimes it’s not worth engaging in discussions that will go nowhere, particularly if people are getting upset and defensive. No one gains. If anything, more is said than should have been said and the controversy escalates. I have seen this happen a hundred times. I’m done.

Titus 3:9
But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.

We had a controversy in our local community that was extremely divisive. Conversations were misrepresented; newspapers reported incomplete information and often, with only one side of the story or pure hearsay; while social networks were used to accuse and inflame an already unstable situation. And to what end? The people in the center of it all felt no better, just wrenched apart emotionally. The only thing that lessened the impact was the wisdom of a few who said: don’t engage, don’t add, don’t comment. And eventually, this proved the best choice; the furor abated and people moved on with their lives.

When Jesus stood before the different “authorities” on those fateful days before his crucifixion, he, too was silent. What would have been the point? No one would have believed him more that day than any other day. There was nothing more to be said. His great controversy had to be endured and he knew the meaning from the beginning. He may not have known how the whole thing would play out, the passing from one dignitary to another (think about it: he saw three “leaders” in the course of 24 hours who could have changed the world), but he knew the outcome would be the same: torture and death to the body.

But Jesus also knew about the third day. He knew about the results. He trusted God, despite the pain, the desolation, the anger, and the very air of evil that encircled him. Words were nothing.

And so, Jesus, as foretold throughout the histories and prophecies, rose from the dead. That event put all controversies into perspective.

When all is said and done, most stories have an opportunity for resurrection and transformation. With God, there is always hope. There is no irredeemable act. Even in the face of evil, we must hold fast to our belief that “love wins” — God wins!

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Words are compelling. They can change someone’s mind or lock in a point of view; they can soothe or they can motivate to action; they can break a heart or heal. Words create and words destroy. Depending on the wielder of those words and the interpreters, meaning can go either way.

I Timothy 6:4b-5a
“. . . He [one against the message of the Christ] has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men, . . . ”

Currently, there is quite the controversy over the book, Love Wins, by Rob Bell. Perhaps by now, a few of the attackers of this book have actually read it, but I have a feeling that their minds are made up about the author and will read into those words what they believe are true. In response, they have added more words that are even more controversial, like heretic and apostate and “universalist.” These words are highly charged and challenge anyone who might want to agree with Rob Bell’s proposition as being in equal danger. Each day, I google Rob’s name and his book to find additional essays and points of view. Today, I discovered a well crafted essay from Richard J. Mouw, the President of Fuller Theology, who called Bell’s book one of salvific generosity or a generous orthodoxy, a term popularized by Brian McLaren some years ago (also a controversial author).

And so the battles rage about words and more words. Some are determined to “protect the faith” and some are equally determined to take grace to its limits, expanding the faith.

I am not a theologian nor do I have any authority to speak either way really, except by personal experience. I have written about my mother before who died at 91, in full dementia, and after a long life of mental instability, bitterness, and hardness of heart. But, when it came time for the end of her life, love was there and she had a specific experience of seeing the Christ. How could that be? How could God break through that cloud of confusion? Because, love can win. That love came through me, my husband, my children, my church family, my friends, and my neighbors. That love was three-dimensional, yes, but I believe it was also supernatural.

There is potential for recognition of the Way at any point in a life. We will never know.

When I give my own testimony of how God reached into my own soul, I am always reminded that several people who had known me before my revelation would say, “You? You are a Christian? You are LAST person I would think would ever do that.” And so it was, that I was the last person, like the woman who washed Jesus’s hair with her tears. And so, among the terrorists and killers, the child molesters and liars, the idolaters and the prisoners, I am there too. We are all among the last. And what words are there for us?

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I’ve been watching the controversy unfold over health care reform in our country and the division, not only marches through party lines now, but even people of faith are finding themselves on opposite sides of “the aisle.” We must learn to disagree without “harsh judgments” of the other person.

Romans 14:1
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.

There will always be “disputable matters” in our culture. We must take care, I think, to avoid condemnation of those with whom we disagree. We can participate in the political process by contacting and engaging our elected “authorities,” and we can work toward electing those we prefer, but we should not be harsh and critical with one another. There is no point.

Usually what happens is that we follow a particular pundit, someone we grow to trust, and as we listen to his/her take on a controversial subject we go along, “yes,” we think, “that sounds right.” And off we go repeating what we heard and even standing rigid on the ideas of another. But guess what? People are doing that on both sides of the equation.

I remember when my children were younger and we would pray with them before a sports game that God would give them victory. But then, one day, Kip asked me, “Does the other team pray too?” And there you have it. Yes, they do. They are also praying for victory. Who will win? God ultimately sorts these things out.

There are no Republicans or Democrats or Communists or Tea Parties in heaven. God is the great equalizer.

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