It seems anymore that Christians love to pick fights. It may not be the Crusades, but the battles being fought today still seem to be devastatingly harmful and unfounded (and should be extremely embarrassing for the Church). The rhetoric I hear seems to explain these fights and battles as necessary for the defense of doctrine and good Christian values. Perhaps what is most ridiculous about this, is that it seems that Christians have just as much internal fighting as they do with the secular world.
While some tend to love to always be eager to fight for what they believe, others tend to run from any sort of conflict. In doing this they tend to hide from any challenges to their faith or worldview, refusing to be challenged or questioned.
Both seem to be problematic. When times of high criticism come or when people start putting up their dukes in regards to faith or values, people tend to respond in the adrenaline induced instinct of either fight or flight.
My new pastor, Bill Shereos, recently said something I thought was pretty profound regarding this topic:
If you find yourself fighting or fleeing, you need to assess your heart and see if you are motivated by faith or fear.”
And that’s the problem today – it seems that most of the fights that I see happening in regards to doctrine or values seem to be motivated by FEAR. It can be a fearful thing to have your beliefs challenged. We live out our lives based on the values that come from our beliefs. If we find out that our values or beliefs are wrong, that means that the very foundation that we build our lives upon is faulty. And that’s a scary place to find oneself. People will go to great lengths to try and deny that their foundation is faulty. They will attack brutally if necessary. They will run far, far away if it suits them. But I’ve said before a number of times on my blog, if we truly believe that all truth is God’s truth, and we work from that foundation, then if we find out a value or belief we once thought was true is actually false, then we can realign ourselves in confidence, not fear, because the Christian journey is one where we are constantly trying to understand God’s truth and live into that truth. It is healthy to recognize that there are different levels of importance when it comes to Christian doctrine. There is dogma – that which minimally defines what Christianity is. There is doctrine – interpretations of Scripture which define the various faith traditions. There is opinion – interpretations and inferences that you or a smaller group of believers hold to that are not clearly defined in Scripture.
Christians will fight seemingly over anything. Churches split over differences of opinion, denominations are born over differences of doctrine, and people over the centuries have been killed because of not aligning themselves with the dogma of the Church. All of these scenarios are lamentable. Christians are supposed to be known by their love for all people and their faith in an merciful, loving God. But it seems like today Christians are known for their fighting, stubbornness, and fear of change.
When we find ourselves getting defensive, or perhaps wanting to just run away from an issue, maybe we should ask ourselves if we are wanting to fight or flee because of fear. Challenges to our faith are not times to fight or flee, they are times to learn and grow. Sometimes that just requires shutting up, remaining humble, and listening with a desire of understanding how we can better live into God’s truth and live loving others better.