Stephen Blackwell, Stonepoint Member
As a father, some of my favorite things to do are listen to my children. Just last night, my oldest confessed he had a crush on a girl at basketball practice. My youngest constantly asks for something and when we say no he replies,”I mean in the morning!” But I don’t mean just when they are talking to me. Sometimes, I sit on my couch and just listen to them playing. I hear them run through the living room and talk about being The Flash, or they’ll come kicking through being Super Samurai Power Rangers. Usually, they’ll be in their room playing with action figures or their Hot Wheels, and sometimes when it’s all going right I hear laughter. Not just giggles, like full on bust-a-gut belly laughter, so infectious that before long Robin and I are laughing too.
But THEN I usually, hear a smack, and it all breaks loose. Yelling, fighting, and then most of the time it ends in someone crying. So of course, I have to step in and make sure no one draws blood, and then dish out a punishment. When all is said and done, the argument or fight usually began for a silly reason, but then again, they are children.
From viewing Facebook, I see people who begin arguments for silly reasons. I see posts of cryptic messages about being wronged, for the sole purpose of wanting to throw drama out there. I have read blogs that are disguised as informative that are only to make people angry, and to get attention via comments. (As a blogger, I’m treading on thin ice.) When I’m sitting at children’s sporting events, I overhear people yelling and talking about refs and coaches for silly reasons. (Kinda just stepped on my own toes.) And unfortunately, I have seen people who have started arguments in a church for unbiblical reasons, i.e. Pew color, carpet color, song choice, too many events, not enough events and ,well, fill in the blank. Unlike my sons, most of the silly arguments I see are not between children, but adults.
Here is what the bible says about silly arguments.
23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 2 Tim. 2:23-24
This was a letter of encouragement and instruction from Paul to Timothy. This was one of the last letters he wrote before his death, and some believe he was settling his accounts, so to speak. He was encouraging and teaching still in these last days, giving Timothy an account of encouragement and fortitude for when he faced trials. He warned Timothy not to get involved with people who create these arguments.
We all know people that love to start arguments for the sake of arguing. They strive to see people get riled up and mostly they aren’t happy unless they are angry at something. I am, at the heart of it, a pretty non confrontational person, but there is something about the internets and Facebook that make me super opinionated, where I feel like I need to let people know how I feel on certain topics, not in the same vein of this blog though. I’ve caught myself in the middle of a political argument that doesn’t matter. I’ve caught myself defending the honor of Tony Romo, knowing he doesn’t need my help. I’ve even found myself in the past arguing about things in the church that don’t matter.
Paul warned about stupid arguments, i.e. red vs. orange carpet, too many vs not enough events, church getting too big, contemporary vs. Traditional. These are the arguments that I have seen split churches or at least have caused some church migration. They cause descent and strife in the church that’s not needed. There is plenty for the church to be concerned with that doesn’t concern upholstery and music styles.
I like how The Message translates verse 24:
God’s servant must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener and a teacher who keeps cool, working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey.
As a teacher, I have students that will say the sky is blue, and another will chime in just to be argumentative and say it’s pink. We mustn’t be argumentative, especially over trivial stuff. Of course we must stand up for our faith. We must believe strongly in who we are in Christ, and not let anyone tell us otherwise, but at some point you must just do as 2 Timothy 2:25-26 tells us…
25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil,who has taken them captive to do his will.
I love hearing my sons get along. When they do, they create, they encourage, they teach, they defend, they comfort, they console, they love, and harmony makes for beautiful music. They achieve so much when they work together and don’t argue. In the same way the church creates, encourages, teaches, defends comforts, consoles, loves, and does everything it can to connect people to God, then connect them to others, and then connects them to help reach the world for the cause of Christ, not upholstery.
Next time you feel like being divisive remember What the great theologian, Yo Momma, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Take it, and it will save the church, and it’s leaders some heartache.