Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Casting Pearls

Just recently I was in an online theological discussion with a number of others with a variety of takes on biblical truth. The more we talked the more differences appeared. At first it seemed like a discussion, but the more differences appeared, the more it became a debate, an argument; the tone started changing from one with various perspectives to one of hanging onto personal status quo. At that point discussion is no longer productive, and I signed off. In the meantime, however, a lot of wildly different beliefs were shown and each would produce a Bible verse or a non-scriptural mantra. 
One of the first confusions I encountered: The two words, "with favor" left out of the verse Habakkuk 1:13a, Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You can not look on wickedness with favor seemed to confound the conversation. Even when it was pointed out that the verse has those words, people argued about the inconsistency about God not being able to look upon sin, that if He couldn't, how could Jesus come to earth and walk and eat with tax collectors and sinners? They asked where in the Bible it said that God couldn't look upon sin. The problem in showing that...is that the Bible doesn't say that. They didn't want to hear the whole of Habakkkuk 1:13, that proved just an annoyance to their (s)train of thought. 
Then the definition of sin became an issue. One woman asked why God doesn't like sin...which I thought would be easy to clarify, since sin is defined by whatever offends His holiness...that anything apart from faith is sin (Rom. 14:23). But it wasn't that easy. She told me to think, that God gave me a brain, and that my thinking was circular. Well, since my thinking is circular and hers is clearly not, we had a communication gap that I did not know how to bridge. I thought about it later, and I imagine that her definition of sin is more cultural, that to her way of thinking, sin is anything that offends people morally...which is a very vague, changeable, arguable, and powerless definition. Sin defined by culture can vary greatly, even in the same culture over a short period of years, as we've seen here in the United States. Sin defined by biblical truth, by God's holiness, is a constant, a standard, sure and fast, compelling those who fear God to live in obedience to Him. If I were just accountable to the culture I wouldn't feel compelled not to sin, but only to hide that which would bring unwanted human condemnation. If I didn't care what people thought, I would have no controls in my life at all...which is just how I think many, if not most, people live.
There are times when you can think that a conversation is going to be workable, that the people you are discussing things with will be receptive to biblical truth. When that goes out the window, it's time to move on. In this case it seemed that if they are destined to come to know Christ, the time was not then, and the messenger was not me. But I hope I "put a rock in their shoe" as an elder in our church would call it. When excitement turns to exasperation, it's likely that you're casting your pearls before swine and you might as well save your breath. But God's word does not come back to Him void; I hope I may have given her one in a string of pearly biblical truths that she may have to go collecting, a little here, a little there, that may someday come together and become a cohesive thing of beauty. 

No comments: