I will never forget the day. We were walking around downtown Dallas when we were approached by a young adult. Usually when you are in a big city like that and you are approached it is someone who is asking for money. But this time was different. He asked me if I knew Jesus. I said yes, in fact I told him that I was even a youth pastor. For some reason, that was not a good enough answer. He wanted to know my theological viewpoints and then he wanted to convince me why they were not good enough. In fact, during the entire conversation, he was trying to convince me that I was actually not really a Christian, that I never really had ever had a real relationship with Jesus, and that I needed to join the church that he was associated with in order to be qualified.
I do have my opinions. However, unless I feel really comfortable around you, I will seldom give my opinion unless asked. And even then, I am a bit reserved. A theological debate is not my thing. I believe that a conversation about doctrines can invigorate some folks, but it can also clearly repel others. At the end of Acts 6, we read about a debate that had a deadly outcome. Check this out:
8 Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people. 9 But one day some men from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves, as it was called, started to debate with him. They were Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of Asia. 10 None of them could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke.
11 So they persuaded some men to lie about Stephen, saying, “We heard him blaspheme Moses, and even God.” 12 This roused the people, the elders, and the teachers of religious law. So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council.
13 The lying witnesses said, “This man is always speaking against the holy Temple and against the law of Moses. 14 We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy the Temple and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”
15 At this point everyone in the high council stared at Stephen, because his face became as bright as an angel’s.
Now I know that the Bible says that "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.", let's remember to not get carried away with this. Because if you keep a knife on a grinding stone too long, the knife becomes too weak and too brittle to be used. In other words, it destroys the relationship. Let's build each other up. Let's speak words of encouragement. Let's be the salt and the light.
With sincere love for each of you,