Keep Calm and Argue On

So they watched him and sent spies who pretended to be honest, in order to trap him by what he said, so as to hand him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor. So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you are right in what you say and teach, and you show deference to no one, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” But he perceived their craftiness and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose head and whose title does it bear?” They said, “The emperor’s.” He said to them, “Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were not able in the presence of the people to trap him by what he said; and being amazed by his answer, they became silent.

Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.”

Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.” Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him another question.

Luke 20:20-40

Some of the most stressful moments in my life have been when a non-believer pointed out a perceived hypocrisy and expected me to answer it. Never did I speak with such eloquence as Jesus. He does several admirable things in this situation. First, He knows His scripture thoroughly and can use it in an argument even without referencing it first. Second, He uses logic in addition to subtle ethos rather than trying to move the listener into understanding with a torrent of God’s love. Third, He does not expect that His answer will change their minds. Sometimes people don’t listen with an open mind. Often, even.

All of these are good models for what our expectations of ourselves should be. While knowing and understanding scripture as well as Jesus might not be the most realistic goal, understanding it better is not. I know from personal experience that it would be nice in these situations to not have to fumble around for a relevant piece of scripture. And, to be honest, failed conversations in the vein is a big part of what led me to do this Bible study.

Logic is a skill that not only eludes many Christians, but that a large number actually frown upon and distrust. They see it as part of science, the enemy. But Jesus uses logic constantly. It is a VERY important tool for us to have. Besides, speaking in a language the non-believer is comfortable with and trusting of is a lot more likely to win them over.

Finally, the difficult one, don’t get frustrated if they seem like they’re refusing to change. God is either going to work in their hearts or He isn’t, and there’s nothing I can do or say to change it. This aught to be a high pressure situation for God, not for me. 

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One Response to Keep Calm and Argue On

  1. Pingback: The Shut-Out | Understanding the New Testament

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