We love our drama. We love putting other people down and raising ourselves up—it is a part of our sick, corrupt, twisted, and less-than-human (the way God created us, at least) nature.
I talked to an ex-student of mine. She told me about all the soap-opera like events going on at the school ranging from personal conflict to extreme favoritism. She said it was better when I was in the administration there and I need to come back. I smiled and shook my head and said, “People complained about the exact same stuff when I was there.” It’s the same ol’ song and dance with the cards shuffled around a bit. But in the same breath as telling me about the drama, she also told me about plans her and some friends have to create other drama because they hate the current drama so much. Yeah—that sounds like a winning plan.
On a blog comment stream I saw recently, two people were debating the idea of Calvinism vs. Arminianism in the convention. One expressed surprise that a bunch of learned men couldn’t see things his way. The other expressed surprise that someone would be so arrogant to question a group of men with certain degrees who served at certain institutions in certain capacities or went to certain schools. So let’s battle arrogance with further arrogance right? The first comment might have been arrogant and off base, but the response was too. After all, if the Pharisees and modern day secular education teach us anything it’s that being a group of highly educated men doesn’t necessarily make you right.
And with that whole CvsA thing, it’s kind of funny in a sad way. A lot of people will respond, “Well I’m neither Calvinist or Arminian—I’m Baptist or I’m Biblical.” Right…because as a person who has been Southern Baptist all my life and holds to the five points, I look at the Bible and tell myself, “You know, Self, I can see that this clearly says something else, but doggoneit, I just want to be different and rebellious so I’m going to ignore what it says and be a 5-point Calvinist.” But long live the “Biblicist” club!
Of course all of this is part of our sin nature. If we weren’t so prone to put each other down and elevate ourselves especially in our disagreements, then we wouldn’t need so many comments in Scripture about being unified, building each other up, and being humble.
Be it at a school, at church, at home, on the job, at the convention, on a blog, wherever, I like to think it’s my party, you like to think it’s your party, and we all like to think it’s our party.
But it’s not.
It’s Jesus’ party.
And if we are at his party, there are certain expectations of etiquette because he loves us, we love him, and we love each other. For these, consider Romans 12:
We are to look and act different than the world (12:1-2). Our lives (bodies) are living and holy sacrifices. No longer do we conform to this world, after all we don’t belong to this world. We belong to God—his will alone is good and perfect. The attitude of the world is the very definition of self-focus and even self-worship. So let’s get over ourselves.
We are to serve one another in humility and love (12:3-13). We are many parts of one body—true of the universal church and true of the local church. This means we should be least concerned about ourselves and most concerned about others. After all, a finger, a toe, or a nose cannot live on its own. Cut it off from the body and it dies. If the body dies, it dies. Its health and life is completely dependent upon the health and life of the body. So what good does it for the finger to keep poking its own body in the eye? What good does it for the hand to try to rip off the ear and say, “You don’t belong”?
Can we get over ourselves enough to realize there is no benefit to tearing others down to puff up ourselves? Not us, not the body, and not the world.
Instead let us use our gifts—our handiness or our footiness—to serve and to build up, to make the body stronger. Let us give preference to one another. The body is more important than me.
The finer things (the non-essentials) we can debate. But let’s fight like brothers who love each other. After we get done with our wrestling, let’s help each other up, give each other a hug, and watch each other’s backs.
We are to seek peace with all (12:14-21). Bless those who persecute you…never pay back evil for evil. When we feel hurt by someone we have no right to hurt back. God is the perfect and just judge, he will take care of it. But we also have no right to ignore the situation. If your enemy is hungry feed him…overcome evil with good. In fact our call is to respond with good. If you tear me down then I’m supposed to do all I can to build you up. Easy? No. Difficult? Absolutely. But as Christians it is right in the sight of God.
Then as we see people rejoice, we rejoice with them; as we see them weep, we give them a shoulder to cry on and weep with them.
And no matter who the person is, what they have done, how they think, etc.—we are to live at peace with all, so much as it depends on us.
I told that to someone and they replied, “It’s a two way street. They have to be willing to give.” I read them 12:18. It’s not a two way street. Jesus made peace with us on the cross, there was nothing two way about that. We were his enemies and he reached towards us—the ones who mocked, spat, plucked his beard, and shoved a crown of thorns onto his brow. If we think that making peace is a two way street then we have missed the point of the Gospel.
So far as it depends on you.
If we look into a mirror are we going to reflect ourselves or Jesus? It’s not our party.