Tuesday, July 22, 2014

(Not) Arguing Over (A Rejected) Gift

On Facebook, someone I don’t know posted one of those Christian “if you believe this, type ‘yes’ or ‘Amen’” things. Someone I do know (call her “the woman at the well”), with whom I just recently got into an argument with over a bunch of dumb stuff, felt the need to comment with “No way.” Someone else before this argumentative woman at the well was more polite and asked if he was allowed to say no, haha. This is the background story to introduce this post and my point. This was the image originally posted:

Something in me wanted to comment and ask why someone would feel the need to disaffirm something positive that asks for affirmations. On the heels of and in an effort to avoid a less than pleasant argument with the woman at the well, however, I refrained. Before refraining, however, I began to comment to the tune of reflecting on how I suppose different people have their different reasons for feeling the need to comment in the negative on something like this.

I had in mind that the woman at the well is sorta-kinda Jewish, so I could see how she wouldn’t “‘know’ Jesus died for YOU!” Why she would feel the need to try to start an argument over it, however, probably goes a bit further than that, haha. I was thinking that the more polite guy I didn’t know might be a polite atheist or something. Who knows? I was also thinking that these commentators in the negative, at least partially, feel comfortable doing so because Christianity is losing ground in the West.

Then it hit me. The reason they feel the need to refute the message is because they don’t have the Holy Spirit. In other words, they don’t believe. At this point, many scriptures speak to the point. “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.”

Ultimately, then, it doesn’t really matter what is going on in the mind of the refuters, of the woman at the well. I don’t need to psychologize it. Regardless of whether she is a particularly bitchy Jew or a polite atheist, she doesn’t believe. And belief changes everything. The cliché that “the best thing to do is pray” turns out to be true. Obviously, the news has already been heard and rejected, which means it doesn’t need to be presented.

Now, I could also explore – scripturally – why I felt the need to argue with her. I can think to start with Romans 7. That, however, just doesn’t happen to be the point of this post. That wasn’t the sort of revelation I had that lead to my restraint. That wasn’t the particular piece of the scriptural picture that fell into place for me this morning through the circumstances of that facebook post.

I could also explore the appropriateness, or lack thereof, of posting "Type YES if you believe Jesus died for YOU!" on Facebook in the first place, but that is also not the point of this blog post.

Here is the takeaway, for me. Yes, watch out for my flesh, susceptible to sin. That part of me that wants to be right. But that part of me that wants to understand where other people are coming from is not necessarily so fleshly. Sometimes, though, in the bigger picture of God’s story – of God’s Word and God’s work - where they are coming from is, in a sense, irrelevant. It is God’s generous gift. What is the point of arguing over a gift rejected? Do the “reasons” really matter?

Why frame it around psychology? This post is a record of my learning better how to frame something with scripture.

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