I’m Right and You’re Wrong!

Real Christianity7

When I was younger my brother and I would always argue. It didn’t matter what we were talking about; we found a way to make that conversation into an argument even if we agreed with one another. Either we just really liked arguing or we both wanted to be the one who was right. Because we were this way, we really didn’t listen to each other, and we didn’t try to understand what the other was saying. I notice that there are so many people who call themselves Christians and who, instead of trying to understand others, care only about being correct. They will argue and argue and argue in order to prove their point. I have to ask: Is this right for someone who follows Christ? Is the Christian faith about proving that we are right, or is it about genuinely striving toward understanding?

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The Elder:

To the elect lady and her children: I love all of you in the truth — and not only I, but also all who have come to know the truth — because of the truth that remains in us and will be with us forever.

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

I was very glad to find some of your children walking in the truth, in keeping with a command we have received from the Father. So now I urge you, dear lady — not as if I were writing you a new command, but one we have had from the beginning — that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk according to His commands. This is the command as you have heard it from the beginning: you must walk in love.

Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves so you don’t lose what we have worked for, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it, does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your home, and don’t say, “Welcome,” to him; for the one who says, “Welcome,” to him shares in his evil works.

Though I have many things to write to you, I don’t want to do so with paper and ink. Instead, I hope to be with you and talk face to face so that our joy may be complete.

The children of your elect sister send you greetings.[1]

 

First, here, we learn that to walk in love means to seek the truth and to strive to keep God’s commands. In fact, anyone who does not seek truth and practice honesty does not walk in God’s love. We know what it means to practice honesty. It means we always tell the truth, especially about ourselves. To seek the truth is to try and understand reality, which I wrote about as we walked through 1 John. I want to, here, explore another aspect of truth.

Seeking truth also means that we strive to be understanding of people. I want to ask you a question: Have you ever seen two people get into an argument even when they are making the exact same claim? I am convinced that so many arguments could be avoided if instead of trying to be right all the time, we tried simply to understand other people. Forbes published an article about the importance of understanding clients in business,

 

“When we understand people’s personality, we can give them what they need. This enables us to build trust, respect and long-lasting relationships… which ultimately converts into loyal clients. In fact, we can get along with just about anyone, when we know who they are & how they need to be treated.”[2]

 

If good relationships are the key to good business, how important might they be in life?

Here we also learn something very important about who God is. If truth comes as we seek to understand and if God is truth; then God is the God of all understanding. God understands us as He makes plans for our lives and as He interacts with us. Considering this, it must be true that God understood when He flooded the earth. He understood when He delivered Israel from the hand of Egypt. He understood when Jesus died to offer salvation to all people. He understands when we are going through a trials, when He punishes us and when He saves us. He literally knows what is best for us and considers us on a very real level as He assigns us roles in His Kingdom. Because of this, we can trust that we are exactly where God wants us to be, that we can handle it with His help and that where we are is the best place that we could possibly be at this point in history.

If God is the God of understanding, then faith in Christ is a call for us to strive to be understanding of other people. Christian faith is not about us being argumentative or proving that we are always right. It is about understanding people as God does so we can serve them and share the life that is found in Christ with them.

If God is the God of understanding, then we can also trust that He has given commands according to that understanding and that His commands are good. John draws this idea out more for us. If God is wholly understanding, then we would do good not to distort His teaching. John writes that anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching, but goes beyond it, does not have God. This statement actually weighs so much. It can be a lot for us to deal with. Remember that Jesus criticized a group of Pharisees for adding to the Law. This is why it is so important for us not to add our own works to the saving power of God’s grace. Remember that Christ is the only one who can sit on the throne, we cannot sit there with Him. We cannot preach our opinion as fact and we can’t treat God’s teachings in scripture as though they are no longer meaningful for us. This actually gives us much freedom. We do not have to burden ourselves with religious rules that God has not specifically given us in Scripture, and we also cannot hold others accountable to rules that are not given in Scripture. It also means that we should strive to apply all the teachings that God has given us to our own circumstances as we live life for Him.

If we are guilty of adding to God’s teaching, John tells us that we do not have God. Here is the stark reality for individuals like the Muslim, the Jehova’s Witness and the Mormon. Scripture that came from God according to these three other religions states that those who add to God’s teachings do not have God. Islam seems to have added the Koran as God’s final revelation. Mormon’s have added the Book of Mormon as another testament of Jesus Christ. Jehova’s Witnesses seem to intentionally interpret Scripture wrongly from the original language, both taking away and adding to the teachings of God. Thus, according to John, these are without God. I would also contend that any Christian who adds to or takes away from the teachings of Christ, according to John’s words, does not have God.

John also states that if anyone does come and does not teach what Christ taught, he is not to be welcomed. This verse seems to be talking about people who come in a teaching capacity. Remember that John also wrote that we need to be accepting and forgiving. Here, specifically, we should not allow people to come in with teaching authority who are not committed to teaching what Christ taught, no more and no less. Teachers, according to the Christian faith, ought to deny themselves at least as much as they do not teach their own opinion as fact. They ought to explore the truth and teach what Christ taught. Remember, no more and no less. If we welcome a teacher who adds himself to Christ, or ignores what Christ taught, then we are guilty of sharing in their evil works, according to John.

 

God is a God of amazing understanding.

We should strive to be people of understanding.

We should hold our teachers to be teachers of understanding and truth.

 

The Christian faith encourages people to be genuine and to strive to understand both God and other people as they are. It is not about us proving that we are right. It is about striving to understand both God and people.

[1] 2 John 1-13 (HCSB)

[2] “Become Successful By Understanding Peoples Personalities.” Forbes. 2013.

 

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