Have you noticed how people argue these days? You can win any argument if you give the other side an ugly name. I hear a lot about “Anti-Vaxxers” where I live, and I know some people who fit the description.
The problem is that some of them are friends, and I don’t like to mock and sneer at my friends and neighbors. Also, if we think a woman is pushy and demanding, we can call her a “Karen” but the same problem applies. Other people deserve our respect.
When I was young and living at home, I said the forbidden words “Holy Rollers” and both of my parents got angry, and told me never to use those words in their house. They reacted as if I was swearing. I was surprised, but they probably received that insult before I was born. I learned the lesson from my parents.
An insult is not an intellectual argument.
We also have an insult for Christians “Bible Thumper.” If you don’t like that person and their beliefs, just apply the ugly name, and they will instantly become irrelevant. It is so easy these days. On the other side, ugly criticism can be ignored, and it may contain some truth. The truth applies to both sides:
Other people may have something important to say and there is some truth in most criticism.
So, are you a Bible Thumper? Are you aggressive when you communicate the things that are important for you?
I have three stories that might help us to understand:
1) About the time I said “Holy Roller” I had one simple pleasure in life, and one disappointment. I liked to sleep in on Saturday morning, and I couldn’t. My mother was a Christian with strong convictions, and at least one large black Bible. My best friend’s mother was equally convicted, but she opted to be a Jehovah’s Witness.
On a quiet Saturday morning, as I enjoyed not getting up to do something, I would hear a knock on the door, and my mother would answer. At first the conversation was quiet, but it would become intense quickly, and there were Bibles on both sides. I don’t know if anyone thumped, but many passages were quoted, loudly.
Try sleeping through that.
2) A few days ago, I learned a life lesson. I was working in an isolated northern town, where the sun comes up late, in October. As I was driving on a wide road, early in the morning, I saw something moving in the darkness, and I stopped. On that dark road I saw a small fox trying to cross four lanes of traffic. That’s how animals die. I blinked my lights and a car coming the other way also stopped, and we waited on that little animal. The fox lost its nerve and turned back, and then changed its mind and turned and jogged forward, across the wide road, safely onto the other side.
My lesson was; I am an actor with a small part, on a very wide stage. It’s not all about me. I wasn’t complaining to myself, but I know the temptation, when working alone in an isolated place. All it takes is a cup of coffee that is not hot enough, and I could fall down the poor-me complaining hole. In front of me was a small animal, in a dark and dangerous place, desperate to stay alive. My life was so much better and my problems were so much smaller.
3) I heard a sermon last Sunday, and it helped me to understand about communicating the truth. It’s not about us. God is active in this world, and people everywhere are thinking about that. Some people speak to God, and God speaks to people everywhere. The conversation starts before I arrive.
I never have to believe that I have all the truth they need, and they can only get if from me. I only have to play my small part. Jesus himself told us “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13)
Those lessons came together for me. I think God spoke to me when that little animal crossed the road. God cares about little foxes too, and I had a small part in that story.
Also, there is no argument that I need to win; my ego is not part of the action.
I also wonder, now, why those people had to come to our house every Saturday. Did they enjoy arguing?
We are surrounded by pushy aggressive people, who win arguments with insults. That is modern culture, and it is important for us to communicate truth, without joining the arguments.
I hope my lessons speak to you. More importantly, I hope God speaks to us all, and I hope we find truth, as that commodity disappears around us.
If someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. (1 Peter 3: 15 and 16)