In a typical class, there would be an assignment which might look a little like this: I would be given an issue with two opposing sides, and I'd have to be prepared to argue either for or against the issue. I wouldn't know what side of the debate I was on until I got to the podium. I'd walk to my podium and the professor would say - "Ok - you're for argument A," then point to the other student and say, "And you're against argument A."... And then we'd debate.
I had to be able to debate well on either side of the argument - or look like a fool. This was a real challenge to a lot of students. How does one argue against something they believe in?
It helped me a lot - it changed the way I see and approach a lot information that comes my way.
I also remember having to identify what kind of arguments people used. There were a lot of different ways to persuade. Emotional appeal, exaggeration, slippery slope, identification, endorsement, logical argument, etc.
I hear a lot of this in the political arena - as well as the religious arena. Everybody's arguing. Everybody wants to be right - to be correct.
But - when I look at Jesus - He does the opposite. There's not a lot of arguments in His storytelling. There's just stories. And - as He walked around - He seemed to dissuade people from following Him, rather than convincing them to. His invitation is actually ridiculous - if you just look at it with sober judgment: "Deny yourself, take up the cross, and come follow me." Who would do that, unless there's something behind what He's asking?
And then there's the cross. I've wondered about this in past posts - but - follow the stream of thought for a second. IF Jesus was indeed God - the creator of everything - then He was the most correct person to ever have lived. And, if He could do anything He wanted because He had ALL power, then why didn't He just prove how right (correct) He was - and how wrong everyone else was as His hands were getting nailed? He could use fire - or light - or do something crazy that you might see in a video game. But, He doesn't. He just takes it - and ends up dying.
I mean - think of it. God in flesh - hanging on a cross? He could have easily gotten out of it. He calmed storms, healed diseases, raised dead people. He has complete control. And, yet, He hangs there on a cross and says things like - "Forgive them, for they know not what they do" right before He dies.
Here's my point. Christianity - following Christ - whatever you wanna call it - is NOT an argument. But - somehow people have turned following Christ into one. I think Christianity is less appealing when it's turned into an argument. When I hear people arguing for Christianity - I want to argue the opposite. I hear some of the most ridiculous statements coming from pulpits - and many well-meaning Christ followers. If I can shoot tons of holes in their arguments - and I'm a believer - what must the unbelieving world think?
Yet - at the same time - nothing that I have witnessed is more inspiring than a life lived with the love of Christ. I've seen people that are truly amazing - all because of a life-changing moment with Jesus. The fruits of the Spirit are the best evidence of God's amazing love within His people.
And - the scriptures. They are truly brilliant. And they don't reek of argument. They point to a man that was murdered and then make a claim that that man was God in flesh. But the scriptures don't argue for Him, they just seem to present Him. I mean - there are statements that you can turn into arguments, don't get me wrong. Saying a man is God - that's an argument - for sure. But - the scriptures don't try to persuade the audience one way or another. Jesus is just presented, and we're left to decide.
If God's going to be persuasive - Jesus gives really bad arguments to follow Him. Crosses, death, people will hate you, give everything you own, - all while not worrying. And so much more. Yet - people follow Him. And millions have given up their lives for Him. It's pretty crazy - from a purely marketing standpoint.
It's hard for me to live a life that's not an argument. I feel like I've been trained that way. I'd rather be known for the love I gave to people than the things that I know. Yet - that's not how I live my life, for the most part. When I look at that standard, I completely fail.
And those - oh - few times that I do see clearly - it's not long before I find that I've lost my way again. Grrrr...
There's no wonder I need a Savior. I'd be hopeless without one.