it’s time we ditched destructive diatribe in favor of constructive conversation!

 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

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discipleship class

One element of my life that really helps the “Faith & Thinkology” theme is the constant, varied, intelligent, thoughtful, and open-spirited interaction I have with so many fellow pilgrims on this journey of following Jesus.

Sunday mornings, for example, I meet with my discipleship class, Practical Christianity. At the moment we’re praying, and reading, and talking our way through the Gospel of Matthew.

This past Sunday we looked at the story of “the feeding of the 4,000,” found in Matthew 15. We talked about how the fundamental motivating force for Jesus is always compassion, and how his love-charged response brings people together to break bread in community.

Our takeaway was that Jesus moves people into wholeness, that he stands resolutely against judging one another, and that the gospel is – at its heart – invitational. The purpose of Christ’s ministry is always reconciliation.

Let’s lay that out in bullets, because I believe the series of ideas is hugely important:

  • Jesus moves people into wholeness;
  • Jesus stands resolutely against judging one another;
  • The gospel is – at its heart – invitational;
  • The purpose of Christ’s ministry is always reconciliation.

In fact, it’s a fair commentary to suggest that people who divide, who judge, and who break community in the name of Jesus are preaching a false Gospel.

In fact, it’s a fair commentary to suggest that people who divide, who judge, and who break community in the name of Jesus are preaching a false Gospel.

Diatribe versus dialogue:

14224971_10153927122020875_935253292969723228_nThe other thing we talked about was how unfortunate it is that contemporary politics, social media, and conversation in general all seem to require that we take sides, that we dig our heels in and defend a position, that we prove the other guy wrong, and various other completely fruitless exercises in futility. That’s why I love this cartoon so much (it’s an oldie but goodie):

Then, yesterday evening, and as if to confirm my line of thinking, I found myself in the middle of a helpful, positive social media conversation about our responsibility to treat aliens/strangers appropriately, when someone responded to an attempt at a reasoned exchange by labeling the point of view “un-American crap,” and following up with: “Crawl back in your hole. I have little tolerance for idiots.”

Suddenly, an interaction that had the potential to be informative, dropped out of the bottom because the individual in question was not able to tolerate an actual conversation. The sad, angry, rude person then moved on from character assassination to baser insults that I will not repeat in front of polite company.

Religion? or Faith?

I know this is not news to anyone, but that is my point. This kind of destructive diatribe is exactly where too much of politics, and a disturbingly large percentage of religious discourse, has been finding its home.

And I say ‘religion” instead of “faith,” because much of modern Christianity has moved backwards, into a lightly Christianized religiosity that has little to do with the invitational, “the world will know you are my followers by the way you love one another,” reconciliation-oriented mission of Jesus.

I say ‘religion” instead of “faith,” because much of modern Christianity has moved backwards, into a lightly Christianized religiosity that has little to do with the invitational, “the world will know you are my followers by the way you love one another,” reconciliation-oriented mission of Jesus.

IMG_2507I believe that the “back to the Bible” crowd would not be moving backwards, trying to reinvent the codified legalism Christ came to rescue us from, if only they really did study the scriptures and take Jesus at his word. For me, the more deeply I go in the biblical narrative, the more it moves me forward into new life!

Talking of life – it’s time for me to post this and get on with some work!

Peace – always – DEREK

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derekmaul View All →

Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there's always something new in the works.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor's degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.

Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men's Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.

2 Comments Leave a comment

    • Personally, I’m against eating dogs!! But seriously, you draw people to the Lord by shining with integrity, and loving with a servant’s heart – not arguing against their position. There is good evidence in the Bible to support both a vegetarian diet and those of us more inclined to be carnivores.

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