The luxury of petty debates

Is Congress too divided for debate?

The American West has become a nursery for the irrelevant, a sanctuary for distraction. Due to social media and a false elevation of ideals, Western Christianity has been bogged down by petty debates, a luxury not afforded to Christians around the world. Christians in the United States need to remember Christ’s supremacy in their engagement in current affairs.

In his letter to the Church of Corinth, the apostle Paul “has decided that you know only Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 2: 2). As a man of Roman origin and Jewish teaching, Paul knew a lot and had the right to handle otherwise restricted situations. In the temple he could be referred to as a Jew, while in the company of Gentiles he could be referred to as a friend. In any context, however, he could be called a follower of Christ.

Paul’s main directive, seen in the New Testament epistles and biblical records of his life, was not to be distinctly Jewish or Greek-speaking, but to lose everything to the extent that he has only Christ, and can “share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible [he] may achieve the resurrection from the dead “(Phil 3: 9-10).

Suffering, according to Timothy Keller, is “the acid proof of meaning”. Across all cultures, periods and experiences, suffering is an affliction that has been (or will be) the determining factor in the priorities of a person, community or nation.

The last few years have seemed like a constant acid test.

A global pandemic, the war between Ukraine and Russia, political tensions in the United States, mass shootings and the discovery of ill-treatment of sexual assaults by Liberty University, John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Ravi Zacharias’ international ministries have made every day seem daunting, every stifling moment for the fervent Christian.

Yet in this rise of massive controversy and dissension, an even more overwhelming amount of debate and conflict has emerged in everyday life; be it through social media or human conversation, any pain-free, breathable air is absorbed into mundane and petty debates.

In a letter to his disciple, Paul instructs Timothy to “guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid irreverent stammering and the contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’, because, by professing it, some have strayed from the faith “(1 Tim 6,20-21). During the rise of Rome and the strong influence of the Greeks in the first century, knowledge was a diamond. It was so sought after that men built palaces with which to display their collections of knowledge: the most notable of these was the Library of Alexandria. While much changed in the year of our Lordone thing that was not the increase in education and knowledge.

In Acts, Paul sees this intersect with the early Church at the Council of Jerusalem. It may suffice to say that knowledge influenced Jewish decisions more than the heart and teachings of Christ. The Pharisees were more interested in who they were He knew on teaching the Law and how to put it into practice outwardly, rather than on their ability to let the power of Christ pass through mansion They.

Such could be the same for Christians in the United States today. Centuries of religious thought and a struggle lasting years to address cultural and political issues have led to the Christian incentive to always be right. The United States has been given the luxury of engaging in small debates.

By petty debates I mean those topics that are important, only to the extent that the cultural or social moment permits. These are not issues clearly related to biblical salvation (i.e., what does it take for someone to be saved; can someone lose their salvation?), But often culture-centric issues, such as the question of which political party to vote for.

In persecuted countries, Christians do not have the luxury of contaminating their minds with problems that would fall within the lower levels of Albert Mohler’s Theological Triage. The problems they encounter are life-threatening. They may not deal with the justice system or deep eschatology until the gospel comes out.

A Christian perspective on politics and social issues is important: indeed, Christians should hopefully bring the most objective and reasonable thoughts to those conversations. But we must not abandon the centrality of the Gospel for the sake of secondary issues. These things have caused long Twitter threads – people tearing apart each other – and strained friendships for those in the American Church.

In the midst of small debates and seemingly endless dialogues about everything, remember the words of Paul and the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus, seeing the sinful condition of man, descended into our darkness and, in our place, paid the punishment for our sins. He rose victorious over death and charged us “therefore to go and make disciples of all nations”, promising his presence to “the end of the ages” (Mt 28: 19-20).

Be concerned above all with the mission of Christ. When needed, engage in a lower-level conversation, but always keep the ultimate goal in mind: to show Christ’s love and saving power. If anything, you know nothing but Christ, and he crucified. That he is enough.

Justin Bower is a Liberty University student who graduates in American Sign Language Interpretation with a minor in Bible Studies. When not writing editorial articles for The Liberty Champion or other Christian news sources, he writes for his personal blog and records / produces a podcast called Beggar & Bread.