The Value of a Sword Fight

I had a fight recently. A war of words, really, with someone about whom I care very much. The subject of our battle doesn’t really matter. It wasn’t a central issue—at least not to me. Strangely though, I admit that it’s left me feeling almost bereft. You see, ideas matter to me. And ideas about God matter very, very much.

So this fellow and I went at it. We were supposed to be working on a project together, but in the middle of our work, this mountain rose up and we could not hike our way around it. The good news is that our battle left me thinking—not bleeding. You see our words weren’t personal. (Well to be truthful, I did let a few slip that I wish I could take back. I did apologize.). For the most part, we argued in a civil way, with civil words, using ideas, scripture, examples. We continuously affirmed our appreciation for one another, in spite of the fact that we had our Biblical Swords drawn. I would not be ashamed to have the recording played on YouTube.

As does every arguer, I believe that I am right.

And that has left me wondering how someone I respect so very, very much could be so completely off base. It’s almost as if he’s read a different New Testament than I. How could he be so good, so loving, so fruitful and so wrong all at the same time? (Do remember friends that I am NOT opinionated, right?).

As I’ve been reading in II Kings, I think I have the answer. Over and over we have examples of really, really bad Kings, like Ahab. They turned away from God in such a way that we could paint them with a broad black brush. Bad, we say, and turn the page. But then we find other kings, like Amaziah, son of Joash. The Word tells us he followed the example of his father, but “Amaziah did not destroy the local shrines and they were still used as places for offering sacrifices.” (II Kings: 14)

Let me make myself clear: my friend is NO bad king. He isn’t bad at all!

But scripture seems to show us that somehow we humans are able to absorb the world around us so much that we no longer question its truth or value. This King lived with daily idol worship happening everywhere around him until he no longer even saw it. It was normal, part of the city street scene. It’s the same way with many Christian leaders I think. They have lived with and around so many human, even sinful qualities that they eventually don’t see them anymore. What is frequent becomes normal, which becomes acceptable given enough time and exposure.

The lesson here is not one of permission. I’m not advocating for sin. And please don’t misunderstand; my friend isn’t dabbling with sin. Neither am I. However both of us have been bathed in our point of view until we no longer see it as optional. Frequently repeated has become normal, which has become acceptable, which has become right. Neither of us questions the truth we believe.

This, I think, is how well-meaning, good people are able to go so far astray. People are not black and white. People do good things—and those same people do bad things. People hold good and truthful points of view—and those same people adopt, and teach ideas which are either directly or indirectly opposed to the Truth.

Personally, in this lesson, I learned the importance of a good argument. It forces us back to scripture. If we allow it, it makes us come to our own conclusions all over again. It makes us reevaluate what we’ve been told since our “first days” in the faith. When done with love, ideas and discussions can drive us to the One who made us, asking for His opinion on the important issues.

And it can teach us the danger of allowing sin to have a place in our lives. A good argument can reveal a foothold. It can set us free.

As a result of these long discussions, I’m still thinking about what I believe, rooting out truth from culture. What about you? Has a good argument ever opened the door for you?






2 Responses to “The Value of a Sword Fight”

  1. Duane J. YOUNG Says:

    Yes! Although my encounter with truth rattling comes as I mentor men. I hear their struggles and search for wisdom beyond myself to help them through to their victory. This often opens doors and windows of new wisdom and insights. (Arguments….my wife always wins.)

  2. Bette Nordberg Says:

    Duane, your wife wins both because she is a very bright woman, and because you are a VERY bright man! Don’t you love a passionate discussion?

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