by Barry Newton
To complete for him his worn out and tired politically correct sentences would have been easy. “Doctrinal differences don’t matter. What matters is whether we are serving people in love.” An interest meeting at Habitat for Humanity had brought us together. He eagerly portrayed himself to be striving for the higher ground above the fray.
In such situations, the pressure to politely nod can be strong. Did he expect me to coalesce into gentle agreement? Was he anticipating strong opposition?
Paul’s words that God’s servant should not quarrel were obviously the second highest flag flying from his fortress. To be sure, being a peacemaker is supposed to be a cherished value among Christians, but not at the expense of the rest of God’s message. How would it be possible to help him consider a third trajectory where the goal is a nourished fraternity built upon faithfully embracing doctrine?
There are probably wiser words which could have been uttered. But I knew I had to say something. So I began slowly, suggesting ideas to a man twenty years my senior. It went something like this.
“In my experience, much unnecessary debate has arisen because people began by interpreting the Bible through their agendas and perspectives. Since God has revealed his perspective through scripture, I try to embrace that. There seems to be a difference between choosing what we will value most or a perspective which seems right to us and choosing a perspective which really matters.”
I wish I could tell you what he thought about this. It would be wonderful if I could report that he indicated he would try to allow scripture to form his perspective and that he would begin to consider the weight of all of God’s message irrespective of what others believed. But I can’t. He just blinked and looked at me in silence. I smiled. I didn’t want to argue.