Edify: Wall Building
I’m in favor of legal immigration. Immigrants are the backbone of the United States and have been drawn to our shores since Columbus (or Leif Erikson) discovered the continent. I believe every country should have national, state, and local laws that they enforce. If it is determined those laws no longer serve the best interest of America, the laws should be changed, not ignored. When it comes to building a physical wall along our border(s), I have no opinion, other than I am willing to accept the outcome of the legal process by which such things are decided – i.e. the outcome of the debate that determines how best to enforce the laws that govern us as a nation. So long as in the end the law is enforced or changed. (Romans 13:1-4)
Sorry to disappoint those who were expecting a political blog about the controversy of a ‘big beautiful wall, with an equally big and beautiful door” on the border between the United States and Mexico. I’m more interested in the walls we construct between people.
I just came from a breakfast meeting with a business leader of one of our city’s premier companies. We met to discuss leadership issues, focusing on the qualities of successful leaders who are able build consensus and inclusion, despite differences. We both agree the first step is to focus on areas of agreement, not attack or defend areas of disagreement. The outcome is not to determine who is right or who is wrong. The outcome is about what is true and best, not winning. It is impossible to achieve that goal when you begin the discussion with an attack.
Our oldest son is a Christian pastor serving in Idaho, one of the most Mormon states in America. Clearly Mormons do not believe that Jesus was born as the “only begotten son of God,” but was one of many children born to God as result of physical intercourse with mortal women. They do not believe Jesus is in every way equal to his celestial father since Jesus had an earthly mother, nor do they accept the Trinitarian nature of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. According to their teaching Jesus “became god of earth”, by living an exemplary life and was elevated to his celestial status because of his obedience. According to Mormon teaching, anyone can become a god and be elevated to the highest levels of the celestial kingdom if they strictly follow Mormon teaching and complete all the required Mormon ceremonies. Jesus became the earth’s savior by providing the perfect role model for us to follow. It is by obedience that Mormons earn advancement in the heavenly realm. In their understanding, all souls pre-existed in a spiritual realm until they took on an earthly existence as an opportunity to demonstrate faithfulness to god. Likewise all souls will be resurrected from the grave, and if anyone fell short of god’s standards in this life, not to worry, they will have all eternity to do better and by obedience in the next life achieve higher and higher status in heaven.
It would do little good to attack all the falsehoods of the Mormon teaching derived from the Book of Mormon. They believe that book details the migration of the lost tribes of Israel to America. But despite having lived here for 2,000 years, there is no tangible proof of Jewish heritage found among the Native Americans tribes. The Book of Mormon is called “an additional testament to god’s truth” but in its pages refers to people, cities, rivers, and other geographic locations that have no basis in fact.
Most Mormons believe they are true Christians and celebrate both Christmas and Easter just like their Christian friends. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is world-renown and has produced some of the most beautiful sacred music ever recorded. Most Mormons are unaware of the difference between Mormon teaching and the biblical teaching of salvation, and the life, death and complete redemptive nature of Jesus’ resurrection as taught in the Old and New Testament of the Bible. So why build a wall?
What benefit comes from an attack on someone’s belief? What value comes from making others defensive over beliefs they may not fully understand or accept themselves? I prefer to focus on the truth of Jesus as taught in the Bible without an accusation against my perception of their beliefs.
The same can be said about people of other beliefs, or even Christians of other denominations, or virtually any discussion of divergent viewpoints. Start by focusing on common ground. If they advocate for a different perspective, listen. Be curious. Ask them to explain their viewpoint and the basis for their conclusion (without jumping down their throat). Inevitably they will ask you to do the same. Be ready for that moment.
In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
1 Peter 3:15
“But do this with gentleness and respect.” That’s important. The authenticity of facts in the Bible, the verifiable nature of prophecy and fulfillment, the historic nature of places, people and geographic descriptions are easily verified by extra biblical sources, all of which gives Christians confidence to trust the Bible.
Why build a wall? I subscribe to Norman Vincent Peale’s theory, “When two people argue only bad things result. If you win, you lose. If you lose you lose.” Arguing results in no good outcome. State your facts and the reasons for them, then let the Holy Spirit do the rest.
Truth needs no defense, just opportunity. You will never argue anyone into the truth, so why attempt the impossible? We are only asked as Christians to speak the truth in love. Love without truth is not love. And truth without love is never heard.
We will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
Ephesians 4:14, 15
- Define the phrase, “speak the truth in love.”
- A professor used to say, “When in doubt, sin on the side of love.” What do you think he meant?
- How do you come to the knowledge of the truth
When it comes to potential conflict,
A) you avoid it at all cost.
B) you readily engage.
C) you go into de-escalation mode.
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Lord I fail on this issue repeatedly. Without Your help all hope would be lost. I find I either avoid conflict at all cost, and later feel like I abandoned the truth. Or, I engage in the fray and just end up making things worse and not better. Help me to not only understand but to demonstrate the godly principle of “speaking the truth in love… with gentleness and respect.” I could say more Lord, but that’s already a tall order. Help me overcome my sinful nature and be more and more like you in all my relationships. Amen.
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