I Blog For Books

07 January 2014

Humble Orthodoxy

Blogging for Books sent me an email today, one of many that they have sent in the past months. I am ashamed to say that I read them and move on, for some reason not making the connection that I should. For whatever reason, today's message sent me to the website where I was reminded that I needed to post a review (imagine that), of an unassuming little book that has been sitting on the shelf in my office since last year. I removed the book from the shelf, looked at it, thought "Yes, I read that book. Why didn't I write the review?"

I opened the book, more to refresh myself than anything, before I started writing, and was almost immediately grabbed by a simple statement in the foreword. J.D. Greear writes "A great deal of damage is done by those who hold the truth of Christ with the spirit of Satan." I thought about that statement off and on all day. Pretty humbling, actually.

If I do nothing but sit around and complain, calling attention to the shortcomings of others without making an effort to be of service if I am able - where does the problem lie? I am not perfect, and neither is anyone else that I know. The only perfect person that has ever walked the face of the earth is Jesus. Who am I to judge?

Acknowledgements included, this little book is less than 90 pages. Just a few minutes reading for me. Until, that is, I start reading. Turning the pages for the second time, I read things differently that I did the last time that I read this book. Before chapter one begins, you are referred to 2 Timothy 2:23-25, "Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth." This made me laugh, and I am relatively certain that was not the original intent.  However, when these verses were written, three things did not exist that are an inherent part of today's society:  politics, football, and Facebook.

How can I compare these with those words? Easy. Take the events of the last few months (or years, or however long you choose to go back) into consideration. In most parts of the United States, and especially in the South, something very important happens. You guessed it - football season! Every year, and even more so with the immediacy of social networking, the trash talking commences. I'm guilty of it to some degree, as are most football fans.  What I have come to realize, however, is something that some fans just cannot seem to comprehend - it's just a game. Yes, we want our team to win and we want the other team to lose, we want to be the best! Guess what, folks, it's still just a game. One team wins, and one team loses, and life goes on. Plays are brilliantly executed, plays are messed up. Calls are spot on, and sometimes we wonder if the officiants can see. It's still just a game. Next week, next month, next year ... will it matter who won? You may not remember who caught the winning TD or who made that amazing run, but odds are you will remember the hurtful and hateful comments, the snarky responses and the mean words.

If you think football season is bad, politics is much worse. Heaven forbid someone voice an opinion that another disagrees with - you'd think - well, after reading down a list of comments on a post of that type, and you wonder exactly who is thinking, if anyone.  And no, I don't blame Facebook, or Twitter, or any other form of social media. I don't even blame the mainstream media. Why? Because it boils down to one simple thing. Choice. And that, my friend, is up to you and I.

We have the choice - to speak, or to remain silent. To stand our ground for what we believe, or to remain silent. To argue passionately, or to remain silent. To feed the controversy, to fan the flame, or to turn it off. To change the channel, to avoid the comment - or to avoid the negativity in commenting.

What I think Joshua Harris is telling us in his volume is that believers do not have to remain silent - but neither to we have to be belligerent. The old saying that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar holds more than a shred of truth. Continuing along those lines, however, the simple fact remains that avoiding conflict does not make your conviction stronger. We must remember this - "The message of Christian orthodoxy isn't that I'm right and someone else is wrong. It's that I am wrong and yet God is filled with grace. I am wrong, and yet God has made a way for me to be forgiven and accepted and loved for eternity."

Read this book. Small book, big message. Worth every word.

This book was provided for review at no cost to me by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. I was not required to write a favorable review.