“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all”
The other day, I posted an article that was mostly a quote from John Newton on the necessity of living at peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ though we have theological differences. It’s a really tremendous article that you should read. I can say that because my words are only those of introduction, Newton is the one that drops the gospel bombs.
As I was reflecting on Newton’s words, and even more the words of the apostle, my “but” voice reared its ugly head.
But certainly there is a place for intense debate and dialogue.
But isn’t orthodoxy just as important as orthopraxy?
But doesn’t Jesus say that He did not come to bring peace but a sword? How can I live peaceably with all if I am proclaiming an offensive gospel? Ahhh, yes that is why Paul said, “so far as it depends on you”. The gospel is offensive. Sinners don’t like the gospel. Therefore, you can chalk their charges of abrasiveness to their hatred for the gospel.
But Arminians are in error and an Arminian view of the gospel will inevitably harm the church. (There, I said it). If I believe something is in error am I not just being a good pastor to fight those that are ignorantly feeding the sheep something that will harm them? Isn’t there a time to stand up and fight? Even if it’s those within our own ranks.
But those on the other side of the aisle are lobbing stink grenades at us. They are hoisting up straw-men, torching them, and then mocking our theology. Doesn’t truth matter anymore?
And those of you that are more of the Arminian stripe can woundedly look at the example two paragraphs up and say But I’m offended. How can we NOT do battle when you say things like my theology is in error? How can we really love one another when you think I’m wrong?
Each of those “but’s” has some legitimacy. Truth does matter. But just because truth matters it does not mean that our charge to live at peace with one another and not to devour each other is somehow negated. Just because we have a “but” that we may rightly need to obey it does not let us off the hook of obeying the other truthful proposition.
Some of us are wired to latch onto the “peace” type of verses and every time we hear a “fight” verse we throw out our “But…peace”. Others are more geared to latch onto the “fight” verses and every time we hear a “peace” verse we throw out our “But…fight”. Though our “but” might be true we cannot neglect the truthfulness of the other side.
May we not let our “but” keep us from diligently pursuing obedience.