Who the heck wants to argue?
Argue… argue… argue… it’s a negative word in our culture. When we think ‘argue’ we think ‘grumbling’, ‘confrontation’, ‘yelling and screaming’. But, the word didn’t always have such a negative feel.
I studied philosophy in college (at the College of New Jersey… any alum out there?!) and, in the tradition of philosophy dating back thousands of years… back even before Plato and Socrates… ‘arguing’ was a calm, reasoned, civil, and good-natured way for people to express their beliefs to one another. You might say that, back in the day, they called ‘arguing’ what we today would call ‘good communication’.
So, with that in mind, we read of Paul’s activities in Acts 17 (verses 2 & 3):
Paul went in [to the Jewish Synagogue], as was his custom, and on three sabbath days argued with them from the scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This is the Messiah, Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you.”
He was communicating his faith to others. Undoubtedly, he was polite, truthful, and gracious. And if his listeners didn’t share his beliefs… he moved on, sad maybe, but respectful. These days too many Christians read ‘argue’ and think it gives them the right to criticize other people’s beliefs, to be intolrant, to be self-righteous… to grumble, yell, and confront. But, the truth of the matter is no one was ever ‘argued’ into faith. We all come because somehow, some way, faith was communicated to us.
As ‘works in progress’ we need to bypass the whole ‘arguing’ thing… and, instead, focus on the faith that is being communicated by us, or to us (or both).