Do you get defensive when someone challenges you? Do you respond with a counter-attack when someone expresses hurt or opposition?
Rarely did Jesus get caught up in the anxiety of the people who confronted Him. When challenged, He redirected the conversation to where it needed to go. Was it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar? Jesus elevated the conversation to the real issue of faith and stewardship. Was divorce lawful for any cause? Jesus elevated the conversation to the creation and purpose of marriage. If a woman married brother after brother after each one died, whose wife might she be in heaven? Jesus elevated to conversation to the nature of God and eternity.
What questions are being asked these days that need wise and Spirit-filled redirection? How might the church elevate the conversation to what really matters? How might we as followers of Jesus respond to challenges by focusing on the bigger matters of life with God rather than getting caught up in the surface questions or in our own defensive self-protection and fear?
We live in a day and age of arguing about issues. Television news has capitalized on people’s interest in quarrels. If six commentators are trying to talk over each other about the latest political or social issue as they spar on a TV news show, the audience is riveted and the network is thrilled. But if the people of God begin to imitate the anxious ways of the world, we lose our place as light in the darkness. By God’s grace, we have the mind of Christ. This is what we need to bring to people who think that sparring about the issues is the only pathway for human discovery and discourse. There is a better way.
In order to reply like Jesus, we need to let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly. We need to be filled with the wisdom and fruit of the Spirit. We need to be filled with all the fullness of God. This is what Jesus gives. This is the door He opened through His death and resurrection. Jesus, the Way and the Truth and the Life, leads us away from falling in step with the way of the world.
How will you elevate the conversation on a personal level? How can we do the same as the body of Christ as we encounter confusing issues in a panicky and anxious world?
By: Rev. Michael W. Newman (www.mnewman.org)
Mission & Ministry Facilitator, Area C