Have you ever had someone try to incite you into an argument? They just keep picking at something or pushing the one internal button that drives you crazy. They make audacious and inflammatory claims about you or a loved one. This happens all over. It happens in marriages. It happens in work places.
It even happens in churches — one place that should be free from all this nonsense!
And maybe that is why it hurts so much more. Perhaps because I didn’t see it coming, I am blindsided not only by the action itself, but by the source.
I am deeply convicted that Jesus is the model of faith and practice for anyone who claims to be Christian. There is an interesting phenomenon in the modern church, and I do not believe we are better for it.
This word discipleship is thrown around a lot right now, and we work to understand what it means and how we become disciples in our own lives. That is a wonderful pursuit, but if we are not careful, we miss some very important pieces that change everything.
In the first century, discipleship wasn’t just taking “following God” seriously. When you were chosen to follow a rabbi, you moved out of your house and followed him everywhere. Your goal was to become everything the rabbi was — not simply to know everything he knows. The pursuit of every disciple was to act, think, feel, work, play, sing, and laugh exactly as your rabbi does.
This is who Jesus is for us. He is our rabbi.
It doesn’t seem like a big deal on the surface, but I think it is much more than we realize. As I travel the world, there are different cultures I get to interact with. It has taught me just how blessed we are in our country, and it has shown me there are a lot of pieces to American Christianity that we call spiritual maturity that really don’t look much like Jesus at all.
The truth is that much of what we call the American dream is “Herodianism” and “Hellenism” wrapped up in a package we try to sell as God’s blessing. In fact, it is the very worldview that our ancestors in the faith died fighting against because they knew how subtly destructive it is.
Put frankly, there are a lot of successful American Christians who would call themselves spiritually mature, but they look very little like Jesus.
Jesus is our model for life, thoughts, actions — all of it. Every breath belongs to Him. My energy is to be spent becoming just like my rabbi. And Hebrews gives an even bigger reason for this. Chapter 1 says Jesus is the exact imprint of God Himself.
God is like Jesus. So when we act like Jesus, we act like God.
Now, back to my original thought — what do I do when someone tries to incite me into an argument?
1 Peter 2:23 English Standard Version (ESV)
When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
Isaiah 53:7 ESV
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth.
“It is better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove any doubt.”
Jesus says in Matthew 5, Blessed are you when people persecute you and say all manner of evil against you for my name’s sake. For great is your reward in heaven (my paraphrase).
Choosing not to jump into the drama and debate of these situations does not mean there is nothing to say or you don’t have the backbone to stand up. It may just mean that you look a lot more like Jesus. And that matters more than being right.
May you be comforted by the presence of Jesus as you face the verbal darts from fools who believe it is by their many words that they will be heard. May you have the courage to stay silent, stand back, watch, and be amazed as the Lord works all things out for His glory. And may you look more and more like your rabbi. It’s really all that matters.