And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” Luke 20:8
He said to them,“Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Luke 20:25
Luke 20 brings us two encounters between Jesus and his culture which centered around his authority. By this time, of course (late in Jesus’ ministry on earth), the tension was mounting and the danger building…not unlike some of the “culture wars” in which the church finds itself today. There are plenty of opportunities for us to speak into those divisions. Of course we want to speak truth. But we can speak truth with hearts at war or we can speak truth with hearts set on healing.
Our words can be “fitly spoken, like apples of gold…” or they can “curse people who are made in the likeness of God.” The choice is ours. And the model is Jesus.
In the first passage (Luke 20:1-8), the chief priests, scribes and elders questioned Jesus about the authority with which he was acting. They were baiting him into what they presumed would be blasphemy, but Jesus would not bite. He would not lower himself to engage in a war of words. Oh, he could have…He knew the truth. He could have justified hammering them with that truth. He could have convinced himself that he was not afraid of the gospel and that it was time to take a stand for truth. He could have used pretty much any of the excuses we use today to blast our culture with “the truth”. But he sidestepped the entire engagement. He modeled restraint and held his tongue, even on a hot topic such as his spiritual authority in this world. Sometimes, we are much better …
Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.
I can’t honestly say that I love arguing, but I am fairly good at arguing (being a lawyer suits me in that regard). Actually, it’s ugliness in arguing that I don’t like. I do love an open and honest exchange of differing viewpoints. I think that’s what I like about the blogosphere. It is a “pure” form of discussion, without any of the biases or prejudices that come with too much knowledge about a person’s background. We don’t draw quite as many premature conclusions about each other in this “blogging” realm. So, arguing (nicely) works pretty well here.
But I have come to believe something about the intellectual process and arguing as it applies to evangelism: it doesn’t work. In my 40+ years as a follower of Christ, I have yet to see a single person listen to a compelling “argument” about why it is right to be a follower of Christ and suddenly succumb to the logic and fall on their knees in prayer. I just don’t see apologetics as the key to evangelism. I honestly do not believe the “lost” world is looking for persuasive reasoning, and I definitely don’t believe young “post-modern” thinkers are looking to engage in an intellectual discussion about faith. I think the paradigm of a one-on-one intellectual exchange about God and faith is the wrong paradigm for evangelism in our culture. I think it is a mistaken notion that if we just learn to say it smartly enough or persuasively enough (or loud enough) we will win and people will have no choice but to agree with us and come around to our way of thinking. I think people today (maybe always?) are looking …