Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Contending #1

Don’t you hate it when Christians argue? Especially when they argue about Christ? My heart beats faster, my stomach sinks and all my gut screams ‘Change the subject!’

After all, didn’t Jesus pray that we would be unified. He even said that this would show the world he was from God (John 18:21).

The introduction of John Piper’s “Contending for our All” was a timely rebuke for me that there is a time and a place for debating and defending what we believe. Not just against the world, but also amongst our brothers and sisters.

God has told us truths. Truths like – Jesus is man and God; he died on the cross in my place; he came back to life; heaven and hell are real. Those truths have given me new life, a new identity and a new future. So shouldn’t I defend those truths so other people can enjoy new life, new identity and a new future too?

If people do not know the truth, how can it set them free?

I’m a stickler for correcting people when they misspell my name, but why am I so slow to correct people when they misunderstand Jesus. It really makes no difference whether they spell it Annabel or Annabelle. But if somebody has a skewiff picture of Jesus, even if they are a fellow-Christian, it can have big consequences – particularly if they are teaching others.

I take it this is why Jesus got so fired up against the false-teaching Pharisees. He accused them of locking up the kingdom of heaven from people! He could see them taking people by the hand and tenderly leading them to death (Matthew 23:13).

Piper helpfully points out we should not enjoy controversy nor run from it. The best guiding light is our love for Christ. If I love Christ, I will fight for the truth of who he is and what he did. If I love Christ, I won’t debate for the sake of debate but for the sake of his name. This affects not only whether and what we discuss but also how we discuss truths – never pulling the other person down, never arrogant and letting God’s word do the talking.

So if you’re a scaredy-cat like me, have a read and a ponder over Piper’s introduction. And if you’re coming to EQUIP on May 28 then why not read it before then to kick off your thinking on what it means to be a freedom fighter.

As Piper says…

“ Let us heed Martin Luther’s warning not to proclaim only what is safe while the battle rages around what is necessary:

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides it mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.” (Luther, quoted by Piper p35-36)


Gordon Cheng said...

The quote from Luther is excellent but unfortunately is Lutheran, as in encapsulating the spirit of Luther, rather than actually spoken or written by him.

Mark Thompson talks about his hunt for the quote here:

Perhaps the moral of the story is, can we trust John Piper??


Annabel Catto said...

Thanks Gordon- it is a shame that Luther didn't say it! Piper cites another author (Parker T.Williamson) as his authority for it.

I guess we'll just have to be encouraged by the quote's content alone, rather than by it's authorship!