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Notes on a Diplomat

DSC01427_SnapseedLast night I had a chance to hear a lecture hosted by our regional World Affairs Council. The speaker was an articulate member of the international diplomatic core who walked us through the complex issues of:

Rhetoric and reality—the difference between what is said and done.

Interests vs values—the tendency to act in the interpretation of our own immediate interests at the expense of our own values, and the interests of others.

Diplomacy vs acts of aggression— talking to find an alternative to war rather than engaging in mutually escalating and increasingly dangerous options.

“What’s past is prologue”– Unless we understand our past we won’t know where we are going.

Recognizing that looking back inevitably leaves us with ghosts of the past in the room of  present considerations, the speaker kept emphasizing that in light of the past we must keep talking. Once we stop talking and listening, we can only make decisions based on what we don’t understand– at the expense of those we don’t care for– and our own loss.

While the diplomat’s references were political  and secular, I kept thinking how much we all live in the shadows of  the rhetoric and realities of conflict.  Wherever we turn, personally or internationally, as families, churches, and community organizations, we so desperately need answers of the mind and heart that enable us to come to terms with our past, humanizing rather than demonizing one another, and finding ways to move forward for the good of all.


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32 Responses to “Notes on a Diplomat”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    Mart, in Christianity whereas the basics are to treat others as we want to be treated, there is no diplomacy in either accepting Christ or rejecting Him.

    Jesus was clear in stating He came to divide.

    Divided people continue to widen the gap between them; where there is common ground we can find many reasons to come together under a common humanity, however it is our division of religion that will always divide us and for most that is a very emotional stance…one worth dieing for as well as living for.

    In the end war will come once again to the entire world and diplomacy will not save the world from it, only the intervention of God and return of Jesus will.

    Steve

  2. remarutho says:

    Good Morning All –

    Mart, you wrote:

    “…we so desperately need answers of the mind and heart that enable us to come to terms with our past, humanizing rather than demonizing one another, and finding ways to move forward for the good of all.”

    It seems to me that Messiah, by the wonder of grace and the forgiveness that is possible in His grace, completes those who embrace Him. We are transformed and given strength and greater humanity to both 1) listen to and 2) express ourselves to one another. This dynamic happens at every level, as you say – between persons, in families, communities and nation to nation.

    Your WWII ambulance is a reminder that we do not shoot our own wounded — neither do we leave our enemy to die on the field of battle — — rather, we offer aid and healing when we can. In our day, there are ambulances with not only the Red Cross — but also the Red Crescent and the Red Star of David on their sides.

    Blessings,
    Maru

  3. SFDBWV says:

    In the world of diplomacy compromise is the key to success.

    How can a professing Christian compromise their core beliefs?

    The story found in Scripture has always been boldness with God as our power source and provider.

    The only times I can remember when God considered compromise in His actions were at Sodom and Gomorrah and both were destroyed and when King Hezekiah ask for more life; a disastrous decision.

    Now that I think of it the only compromise God agrees to is total surrender.

    Certainly there is pity and kindness shown the enemy, but never compromise.

    I guess I am missing your point here in this topic Mart so I will just go away and let others develop it.

    Steve

  4. poohpity says:

    Wow, what an incredible lecture to attend!

    How many just conversations alone could we come out on the other side in peace. It seems that many take disagreements as a personal attack and yes I believe it has to do with the past. My dad was one of those good ol’ boys if anyone disagreed with him it was a personal attack especially if it was a child or a woman. His past was an 8th grade education but he traveled up in his career and overcame his lack of education by continuing to learn but it really effected how he discussed any issues. He would become red in the face if anyone went against what he said, I would guess because he viewed ignorance of an issue as demeaning to him. It would have been nice for him to realize that we all are ignorant of so much.

    Listening and really hearing what someone says is an art as is diplomacy but if we keep some very important lessons in mind we can have conversations that lead to mutual respect and dignity. Paul taught Titus some of those lessons when he said, “to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing humility to all men.”. He went on to say to remember who we once were (past). Titus 3:1-8 and ended by saying, “These things are good and profitable to men.”.

    How many wars would be stopped and relationships healed if we could learn if we lived by what we say we believe, valued other people as God values us and really listen to what someone is saying rather than just hearing.

  5. billystan454 says:

    Understand-to grasp the meaning of; to have a sympathetic attitude; to accept as settled. The Merriam Webster Dictionary

    As we slowly approach heaven’s gate understand who we were, who we are, and who we can be become more and more important. For many years I poured booze down my throat, lived under bridges, and went to prison. Prison, at that time is where belonged because I had the tendancy of permanently borrow thing without permission.
    Those years have faded away with time, but only by the power of God. The only way open to me was to trust, with all my might, God, He was the only source of forgiveness and hope I had. Greatfully I seen the need to reach out to Him. As the years became shadows our heavenly Father gave me the the understanding that I only needed to change one thing, that one thing was and is everything. As a result, through me, god now has the ability to help others.

    Henry Ford once stated that experience is our best asset. With it can share our testimonies to help others who have experienced some of the things we have. Today I see my past as a gift that only God, Himself could have supplied. I am no where near perfect, but I try to walk what I talk.

    I do not consider myself a diplomat, an ambassador or even a good leader what I do consider: I am a child of God because He asked me to be. Where the walk gets muddled up and reversed is in that second principle Mart mentioned is where I fail more often than most others. My interests, my wants, my needs; instead of being concerned more about others and powerful me has to take center stage. That also is what I ask daily God to change about me. Until I allow myself to be enticed by my lusts, then every circut in my brain goes haywire. That is exactly where my work on self nedds to be done, and with His help success will come.
    Bill

  6. poohpity says:

    billystan, in 1989 I also found myself homeless with a 6 month old and a 2 year old living out of a van due to drugs and alcohol until I plead with the Lord to change my life and He did. I am forever grateful and so are my children. Since then I went back to school and worked for a BA in human services to help people and got it when I was 50 while being a single mom. So I know the good work the Lord can do in our lives.

    I do believe we are to be ambassadors for the Lord just as Paul was. Eph 6:19-20 Our skills as diplomats seem to be a result of how much of us the Holy Spirit has been allowed to take hold of which will be seen in how we treat others. I know it is a process of learning submission which is very hard especially when one wants to be in control. Humility and getting to that point shows where our trust lies and it seems to be a sure fire example of dieing to self. I yearn for the day when my trust in God overtakes everything else but as of today it is still a struggle.

  7. remarutho says:

    Thanks for your witness to the power of Christ, Billystan. Chains fall off our hands and feet, I believe, when we receive the great gift of humility before God. Jesus brings each of us back from the “far country,” whatever that looks like.

    May the Lord give us all transformation — out of the bone-yard of our past into the new day he has made. We were all dead in our trespasses and sins, — Ephesians 2:2, 3, 4, 5, 6

    Maru

  8. poohpity says:

    I am frankly saddened there is not more conversation on this topic. I know politically we could go on and on about how this applies but in the church and among believers this is such a powerful message on how we present ourselves and the Lord’s message in just everyday life.

    Before we open our mouths the thoughts that spring forth is the time to stop and realize that people all have a story before we demonize them with rhetoric all the while not knowing that they all are human beings loved by our God no matter what they have done in life.

    Rather than presenting our case with facts we start with personal attacks and name calling to make them feel and think less than so that our case has more merit. I think one of the classes that should be offered at our churches is how to look at people as humans rather than objects to administer good will with no personal exchange.

  9. remarutho says:

    Good Morning All —

    We see the world, the marketplace, even the church divided into camps that do not or will not relate to one another as human beings. Many are leading with their party affiliation — or denomination– or even their category (conservative, liberal, whatever). It seems to me we cannot hear one another when we proceed on the assumption that being “diplomatic” means we are compromising our principles.

    Who would be afraid that a relationship with a person or group different from themselves would “rub off” and make us “one of them”? If the Lord owns us body, mind and soul — will He release us and call “not His own” one who is “His own?”

    Blessings,
    Maru

  10. foreverblessed says:

    Diplomacy, a very christlike attribute, in the sense that Jesus comes to us, as we are, or rather came to us as we were, and started working with us. Without for one bit compromising His goal: saving us, making us holy, and then disciplining us.
    I was reading about Jacob, he was not a very outgoing person, even when he knew he was the chosen one, he still lied and cheated about it. Then he had to flee for his brother he had cheated, and then God talks to him at Bethel, God does not reprimand him at all, just restates the fact that Jacob was chosen. No reprimand! Was God compromising there? Genesis 28:13,14,15
    Many of us would have thought so. But God was working in another way, the slow way,the way that takes years and years. God was going to work on that cheating side of Jacob, by disciplining him later on in life. God already knew that Laban was waiting for him.
    We would do well to be more with God, and attuned to His way of dealing. With our fellow christians, with unbelievers who will be called.

    (By the way I have trouble with this blog, I can only read the new comments when I am logged in, and then I can reach a new topic only when there is a comment. I got a smartphone just lately, on the phone I can read it, but cannot yet comment. BruceC mentioned he had trouble too. Is it something my computer is doing or is it a problem of the website?)

  11. foreverblessed says:

    I would like to change my comment a little, where I said, “we would do well to be more attuned to God’s way of doing..” I would like to say, this way of addressing to Jacob would not have been my way, my first inclination is to tell him straight in the face what he had done wrong, not that I actually would do it, but I am thinking it anyway. Then I would think: well God will discipline him, he needs it. Although I also think we can tell God straight away what we think of it, and how we feel about it, especially when we ourselves have been wronged. So that all the hurt in our hearts is given to God, and we wait for Him to heal us. But the dealing with the offender, that is another thing. I would do well to hear the still small voice of God. How would He handle it, like He did with Jacob? His ways are higher then mine.

  12. Mart De Haan says:

    Some of our conversation is hung up on the tension between what Jesus said about not coming to bring peace but division, and all that he said about peacemaking.

    Admittedly, we could look at it and say that he came to bring peace only with those who are willing to be reconciled to him and thereby to his Father. There would be truth in that.

    Peacemakers also can be hated by both sides in a conflict– until both sides are ready to let the peacemaker help them to get past their mutual aggressions and losses.

    The answer seems to be in how Jesus’ made peace with his enemies. Look at the ground he gave. Think about how low he came. The king became a servant, allowing himself to be treated like a slave, beaten and condemned like a criminal.

    Did he compromise the glory and goodness and honor of heaven in the process? Did giving so much ground to his enemies result in loss to God and man?

    Did Jesus compromise his character by being willing to be made sin for us, and to be seen as being cursed by God?

    And after, having made peace by his cross, did Jesus compromise strength and power by giving us a Spirit who fills us with love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, self-control?

    What about the wisdom of the peacemaker that is first of all pure, gentle, peaceful, willing to yield….

    Seems to me that, as unlike Jesus as we are, and as sinful as we have been, it is not below our honor to be known as a people who are willing to listen to those who have issues with us, to learn from them, to honor them– not only for their sake but our own.

    So then how did Jesus come to bring a sword rather than peace? What are we to make of this gentle Savior who ends up with a spear in his own side?

    Isn’t it ironic that by the nails he allowed to be pounded into his own hands, by the crown of thorns jammed into his head, by the lashes to his back, and by the spit in his face, he dealt a fatal blow to “Death” and the Great Accuser of our souls?!

    Yes, making a move toward the invitation of Jesus might cause broken relationships– but I’m quite sure that such separation is not the goal, vision, or endgame that our Savior had in dying for the sins of the world.

    Diplomacy may be practiced foolishly. But when done with a heart for peace– even by those who don’t yet bow the knee to the King of kings, I’m inclined to see such diplomacy as more a matter of wisdom than foolishness, and as a way of using truth to divide good ends from bad ones.

  13. Bill says:

    This is an interesting topic. The “danger” (maybe “challenge” is a better word) is that Mart’s comments could be seen as being “liberal” or “weak” or “compromising” regarding the fundamentals of our faith.

    It’s been my experience that Christians are polarized on these matters. Shelves in Christian book stores attest to that. Christians who write about peace are often found in the section called “Emergent” or are part of the crowd who reject “religion” and just want to dig Jesus. Brian McClaren, Shane Claiborne, and Shane Hipps, for example. These folks are often politically liberal, usually Democrats. And often anti-war.

    On the other shelves are books by people like Sarah Palin, George Bush, Karl Rove, James Dobson, Herman Cain, etc. They are extremely pro-America, pro-Bible. They are usually Republicans. And often pro-war.

    The problem is this is a bifurcation and a forced oversimplification of Christianity and the issues we face.

    Why can’t one be militarily strong, but for peace? Why can’t one be interested in feeding the poor, but be rock-solid doctrinally? Why can’t one be pro-life, but be aware of the frailty of humanity? Why can’t we be pro-America, but be aware of our own missteps as a nation?

    Somehow, our faith has been usurped by our politics. So we’ve been shuffled into categories like cattle in chutes at slaughter houses. We see things narrowly, either too emotionally and Laissez-faire like “liberals” are thought to be…or too logically and heavy handed like “conservatives” are thought to be.

    The reality of the situation is this: Our world is heading toward catastrophe. Islam is a very scary and serious force not to be underestimated. (Especially with so many Muslim appointments in this administration.) Plus, we are involved in so many wars, giving so much money to regimes in the Middle East, and offering (or imposing) military aid at a pace that makes even the most ardent “hawks” look like “doves.” President Obama has embroiled us in more wars than President Bush did. Yet, I don’t see a lot of hue and cry over that because the media approves of President Obama and disapproved of President Bush. But facts are facts.

    Is there anyone who doubts that the Middle East is a powder keg?

    On top of all that, we have unmanned droves being approved for use in the United States…and an administration that refuses to rule out using them to kill Americans.

    On top of that, we have escalating factions right here in our own country that are calling for civil war, if not the outright overthrow of our government. (Maybe that’s why Homeland Security is stockpiling millions of rounds, thousands of assault rifles, and heavy artillery. Or is something else being planned?)

    On top of that, we hear reports of unbridled police brutality, corruption, and deaths at the hands of maniacs who seek to kill using whatever weapons are handy.

    On top of that, we read of celebrities like Country star Mindy McCready who take their own lives because they just can’t cope any more. (That situation breaks my heart, by the way. What a tragedy.)

    No matter where one looks, bloodshed is imminent. And death is at the door.

    So where does that leave us? What should Christians be doing? Should we be clamoring for more war, take up arms to prepare for civil unrest, clash with the brethren over doctrinal differences, condemn young women who have had abortions, turn our backs on the poor and hungry and homeless? Should we be afraid to reach across the theological aisle to listen to the thoughts of those who are unlike us, who may embrace a different view of the scriptures?

    Diplomacy does not have to mean capitulation, compromise, weakness, or liberalism.

    I think we have taken Christ’s words about “division” too literally — and have failed to see them in context with other verses. For example:

    “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Matthew 10:34-35 ESV)

    That could be a call to arms and death if taken literally. (And who hasn’t seen the YouTube videos of beheadings of people — even family members — at the hands of Muslims with swords or knives in the Middle East?)

    Yet, what about all the other verses that stress peace and love? For example:

    “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18 ESV)

    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” (Galatians 5:22 ESV)

    “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34 ESV)

    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)

    Frankly, I think we have taken the “division” verse out of context and have used it to do all sorts of unseemly things. Besides, how can Jesus say he doesn’t come to bring peace in one verse, but then in other verses speak of peace and love? And, surely Jesus did not literally mean to take up swords in one verse, but then instruct us to turn the other cheek in another verse.

    I believe “diplomacy” (use whatever word you wish) is imperative in today’s volatile world. I believe if we do not seek peace, and do not fervently love with the sacrificial love of God, that we will bring about our own destruction.

    “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16 ESV)

    So many Christians reverse that, and become serpents, leaving behind the “innocent” (“harmless” in other translations) in favor of striking out like angry snakes.

    We cannot continue on the path we’re on. We will be our own destruction if we do.

    Of course, these are all merely my opinions. I make no claim of authority. I may be totally wrong. So accept or reject (or integrate, to avoid bifurcations) whatever you wish from what I’ve written.

    Bill

  14. Bill says:

    By the way, Mart, I think this was well written:

    “Diplomacy may be practiced foolishly. But when done with a heart for peace– even by those who don’t yet bow the knee to the King of kings, I’m inclined to see such diplomacy as more a matter of wisdom than foolishness, and as a way of using truth to divide good ends from bad ones.”

    I agree with you.

  15. SFDBWV says:

    Mart, no one except Christ is Christ. His willing surrender to be punished for mans sin was an obedience to the will of God not a compromise to man.

    If there was a compromise in place for the passion of Christ it was God’s willingness to allow sinful man to be reconciled to Him. Not give in to the rebellious nature of man.

    You can not compare Jesus to diplomacy, because it just is not the case.

    When Jesus returns the compromise will be that all those who opposed Him will surrender to Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and in the end of all things *judgment* will come for those who did not surrender to His terms.

    Steve

  16. poohpity says:

    When I consider the sword of division I think of the difference in how we are taught to be which is far different than the world around us. The attitude we have about ourselves seems to be the defining factor if we take on the character of Christ as explained in Phil 2:3,4,5,6,7,8. How many would be drawn to Christ with that model?

    As ambassadors/diplomats it is a great responsibility to model the care, concern and love that God has for the human race. We can not do this alone who need the help of the Helper. It is hard to step out of the way because we are so infused with the world but there needs to be a division, a sharp division where people no longer see our grasp of worldliness but of something that goes against everything they are used to seeing.

  17. poohpity says:

    The only weapon we are given is God’s Word considering that we get to know God better and in that we learn to trust and depend more when we know all that God has done. Trusting in an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscience God who we know has all things in His hands we can see that the way He has given us to be has results when we approach those who we consider enemies. Doing good to them just as Christ did has brought so many to live under the Wings of an all powerful God. When we are weak and submissive which to the world has a negative connotation but to those who are in Christ it is power. It makes enemies become friends and reconciliation to our God. So that weapon is not the type of weapon as the world sees it but being able to trust and depend in our Lord we can finally stop the attacks against others and become peacemakers realizing who can bring about a better solution than God.

  18. SFDBWV says:

    Here is the thing; in conversation between Jesus and Satan there were no diplomatic discussion or concessions, in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus gave testimony to the truth there were no concessions or diplomacy.

    During any conversation Jesus had with His enemies did Jesus back up nor capitulate.

    When Jesus threw the money lenders out of the Temple there were no discussion about a compromise.

    When Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees and Sadducees He told them the Truth and that stung them into such a fury they wanted to kill Him then and there, but all He did was walk away.

    This is my diplomacy concerning My faith and my walk with our Lord, I will always present Jesus as Lord, I will always present Jesus as the *only* way to salvation and when it stings those to who I present the Christ if all else fails *I too will simply walk away” shake the dust from my feet and let the Holy Spirit work on their heart.

    There is a difference between being *tactful* and being in your face. Here on this blog you can see the results of being blunt and tactless verses polite and *diplomatic* in conversation.

    When confronted by such all I can say is what I have said and walk away, that is sometimes the better part of diplomacy; to say no more.

    Steve

  19. Bill says:

    Steve,

    I don’t think Mart is suggesting that Jesus is a diplomat. However, I do think Mart suggests that we try as best we can (as I mentioned above) to follow this:

    “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18 ESV)

    We do not always have to think in black-and-white, us-and-them terms. I believe Christians have turned many issues into black-and-white diatribes that divide. I think it’s the man-made divisions that Mart suggests we avoid in the spirit of peace and mutual non-annhilation.

    You wrote:

    “You can not compare Jesus to diplomacy, because it just is not the case.”

    At first, I agreed with this. Then I thought back over the stories in the New Testament. Jesus often behaved as a diplomat. He did not take sides. He turned the questions or the accusations back on the accusers. He did not answer direct questions. He spoke in parables.

    I think your dislike for diplomats, and your ardent belief in the non-compromising nature of Jesus and the Bible are converging, entrenching you into a position that is exactly what Mart is talking about in his post.

    What is it about Mart’s blog post that’s rubbing you the wrong way?

  20. kingdomkid7 says:

    We are all diplomats in a manner of speaking,because we are called to be “ambassadors” for Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:20. We are also soldiers who have been warned against getting too entangled with the affairs of the marketplace, lest we fail our commanding officer. 2 Timothy 2:4. So with these assignments in place, I think we just need to hold on to the affairs and issues of this life ever so lightly. Our truest allegiance must be to Him. We have to operate above the fray, with dignity and the authority delegated to us.

  21. remarutho says:

    Good Morning All –

    Mart, you shared one of the speaker’s talking points:

    ‘”What’s past is prologue’– Unless we understand our past we won’t know where we are going.”

    Jesus calls us to stand in the midst of conflict as agents of his ultimate kingdom, it seems to me.
    Jesus said, “Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11, 12)

    Jesus calls us also to stand between the past in which even the people of God tortured and killed the prophets who brought the message of truth to them – and the present in which unbelief in God is the order of the world – so that hearts may be transformed. He says, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

    As you point out, Mart, “Some of our conversation is hung up on the tension between what Jesus said about not coming to bring peace but division, and all that he said about peacemaking.” Peacemakers who bring the Good News will experience division because the very message of God’s Law of Love causes conflict. Nobody ever claimed that Christ’s calling on our lives was going to be easy!

    Maru

  22. billystan454 says:

    William Shakespear once commented, “To be or not to be, that is the question.” If we are being phoney in any way in our walk with God the Father we are only caeting ourselves and anyone we may be trying to help. I cheated myself out of an hionest relationship for far too long. I pray daily not too slip back into that phonyness.
    After years of parental abuse, I felt Ideserved to drown myself. That I did, but with many things other than alcohol. Fear was constantly by my side, resentment,anger, and a total unwillingness to forgive anyone, anything.Oh solo Me-owed, was my theme, and I possessed apowerful self hatred. If you were to suggest something to me, I would blatently do just the opposite. I would not come to God because I felt totally unworthy. It wasn’t until afdter reading, and re-reading the Bible Iwas able to figure out the real message of John 3:16. Iwas part of the world and I was a whosoever.
    “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever should believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV)

  23. BruceC says:

    Some interesting reading here.

    I will listen to the “other side” whether it be politics, doctrine, or human relations. Of the three we are more likely to see we are wrong in the arena of human(person to person) relations. With the Word as our guide we need not compromise on the basic doctrines of the Chistian faith; but present them in love. If some feels that is “division”, then so be it. I.E. Some who think that Christ is just one of many paths to God. No compromising there. He either is the only way or not. Period. Politics is a very weird arena, and in many ways these days is taking on a more “spiritual” aspect in my HO. Meaning that many stands that are taken are in direct conflict with our faith. Again, where do we “compromise”? There are things in life that we just have to stand against and it is as simple as that. We can do that in a loving manner and show love to the sinner and hate the sin, can we not? We can point out those things that go against God’s Word as diplomatically as possible, but if the hearers do not believe then the words fall on deaf ears. And many, many, times those ears are not interested in dialogue but in confrontation, disimformation, and in controlling or manipulating the dialogue.
    We can disagree with respect, but capitulation to anything that goes against the Word of God is out of the question. Look at the times we are in. Look at the lines that are being drawn and who has drawn them for decades. And these lines of division will widen as we approach the Day. I do not think that the body of Christ in total or in large part has been bringing division; but I think it is just the truthful aspect of God’s Word that brings it and the hate of the accuser of the brethren in reaction to the truth. I hope I am not befuddling anyone(myself included).

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  24. poohpity says:

    If we present a teaching that is from someone that is not in agreement with scripture, like Paul had to confront regularly when in reality it is the teaching that is being challenged not the person. We all have so much to learn but there are some basics that we hold to truth and we have to be very careful because there is always going to be deception out there and it is hard to notice but it does not make us any less than if we get caught in it. I am so thankful when someone challenges my thinking and I do not take it as a personal assault but hold it to help in personal growth. How one goes about doing it is where the difference lies, there is no need to personally slander anyone we do not agree with.

  25. phpatato says:

    Maru

    I agree with what you said at 1:20 pm today. Thank you for posting.

    Pat

  26. phpatato says:

    Bruce

    You did not befuddle me. Great post. In fact they are all great posts. I’m just sittin back and enjoying the scenery! Carry on!!!! :-)

  27. foreverblessed says:

    If Jesus did bring division, then it is first and foremost between the ones who hang on to the literal meaning of the law, and do not see the heart of what God is and what He means to say, and on the other side to those who understood the meaning of love of God in it all when Jesus explained it. And then there is division Matthew 9:17

    The Pharisees and anyone who does not go along with Jesus new teachings, (the sermon on the mount, the one who is the leader is the one who is the servant of all, love one another as Jesus has loved us) they are the old wineskins. The Pharisees would rather keep a day holy then heal someone on it. Hold on to the old, as tradition has taught, leave everything as it was. That is the old. And so the new wine cannot go in there.
    New wineskins, that is what we need, a new heart, and then we can take in and do what Jesus learned.

    Maru, to come back on what you wrote, will “His own” on March 6.
    The Church: Jesus in us, and we in Jesus, and Jesus in God. If we stick to the faith, God will make us one, will purge us, purify us Malachi 3:3, 1 Peter 2:5,9, Rev 1:6,5:10,20:6 will make us new wineskins to hold His new wine.

    Billystan, thanks for your testimony, and for telling about it. Thanks a lot, thank God He is forever graceful, and waiting for us to come back to Him.

  28. foreverblessed says:

    Bruce, it looks as if I am gainsaying you. We are not to dilute our doctrines, but we cannot force people to live according to God’s laws, it they do not want too, then walk on. We cannot force a whole nation to walk in God’s ways, it is only to those who are called out of the darkness. Politics is about running a nation, but we are busy with a spiritual nation being formed in the spiritual realm, it is God’s Kingdom, where we are the priests. We are not running our natural country. And I am afraid that many christians fight over these things, laws in a country.
    It is sad they are changed, very sad. But are we to fight about it, or just go on walking with God, and listening to what He tells us to do.
    If there is an influence we could have as christians it would be by how we love one another, it is the Love of God shining through us that will draw people to Jesus. But we are speaking with our mouths what God’s laws are, and they are not interested in it. But a loving act among us, people who do care for the ones who have lost all, that will draw people. (I just read yesterday there are 16 million children in the US who live in poverty, families who have lost jobs and then lost houses). No need to compromise there at all, in no doctrine. Just do.
    What if christians would go after them, together, help them, and stop all these fights?

  29. s2inkzoo says:

    Thinking of BruceC last comment, I think we have to keep in mind what Bill keeps bringing up — that there are different interpretations of the Word. How do we know ours is the right one? Here I am not meaning ones that pour meaning into the text, but I am thinking about what G. Vernon McGee used to say about many key teachings. He would list many distinguished theologians and say they believe this side, and then have another list of theologians that believed the other side. Of course he would usually end with (with a “wink” in his voice), “of course if you want to be right, you will side with me.” So, I think BruceC had the key word in his post with “basic doctrines” which I would say the “essential doctrines”. But there are things like mode of baptism, communion in worship service and such that we can disagree on.

    In Mart’s comment “I kept thinking how much we all live in the shadows the rhetoric and realities of conflict”, I thought of the word “conflict”. Is there needless conflict today among Christian? How about between Christians and non-Christians? Isn’t it driven by some of the same things that the Diplomat was talking about? People say one thing but do another. They don’t really say what they mean and have hidden agendas? They put their own interests and needs first and don’t think of the others? They sometimes even kid themselves into believing they are doing it for good reasons, but are really driven by not wanting to lose face, or not wanting to be inconvenienced. As Bill has brought up recently, we want to separate groups instead of humanizing the individual. We think of those “liberals” or “conservatives”, or “Catholics”, or “Young people” or “Bikers”, or, you name it. All of this leads to helping fuel conflict and not diffusing it. It gets in the way of the love we are supposed to show. It gets in the way of the “if possible,live in peace with all”.

    When I was thinking of this topic, the passage in Matthew 17:24-27. Even though Jesus doesn’t need to pay the temple tax, he still does, so not to offend them. Also, when they came and challenged Him about the tax to Caesar (Matthew 22:15-22), he compromised in their eyes. They were wondering if it was right to give money to a government that ruled over them by force. A government that used the money for worshiping other God’s, held orgy’s and all kinds of other that God did not approve of.

  30. SFDBWV says:

    Bill, it is a fair question to ask me what it is I find disturbing about Mart’s topic. My comment about not getting what Mart’s point was enough for me until Mart gave a response.

    My *rebuttal* is as I have stated. If I am to add to it, it would be that the subject is spawned out of a political idea, not out of a tenet of Christianity.

    Where in the whole of the Bible did God offer a diplomatic solution to any decision He made?

    When Moses was sent to free the Hebrew slaves, there was no give and take it was a simple “Let my people go” or else!

    It is recorded that even when Pharaoh gave in and wanted to let them go, *God* changed his mind.

    When the conquest of Canaan began, there was no diplomatic measures presented, just conquest as directed from God.

    When or if the people would invite any foreign gods or ideas into the camp even the Hebrew were punished for it.

    It is God’s way, not ours to offer concessions.

    If we are talking about a political concept then by all means talking is better than fighting, however some times you are forced into a fight whether you want one or not.

    But we are talking about presenting Christ to the nations.

    We can not water down the message and be politically correct in presenting Christ. Sooner or later we ourselves find that we are looking weak and confused about what the Bible and what Jesus has said just in order to make it sound more palatable to the enemy.
    When Paul spoke to the *wise* men in Athens at Mars Hill, he was subtle and tactful in his approach and they listened until he presented the risen Jesus whereupon they left.

    Once again we find ourselves embroiled in how we think of the meaning behind a word,

    If by using diplomacy in presenting Christ we mean we are to be polite, considerate, gentle, friendly etc. I would agree.

    However if we are speaking of being conciliatory and offering an exchange of give and take in the presentation of what the Bible says and who and what Jesus has to say, I will never agree.

    On a bit of a side note, it is the feet of a mixture of iron and clay seen in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in the Book of Daniel, that represents diplomacy in the governments of mankind and it is there that God strikes the blow that brings down the rule of mankind on the earth.

    Want to talk about diplomacy from a political view I am ready, want to discuss it as a means of presenting Christ I see no value in it nor do I agree with it.

    Steve

  31. BruceC says:

    foreverblessed,

    I think that you may taken my post the wrong way. I never said that we should force everyone to live our way. And true WE are not running a “natural” nation. But; we are required to be responsible citizens are we not? Are we to just sit idly by and have some other way forced upon us? I do not want to make this sound like a politcal forum, but some laws would force Christians to support things that we are totally against. Are we to just sit by and not speak out against things like abortion? Will we impact that by just doing the things that you stated by themselves? Yes, loving one another for all the world to see is great and should be done; but is it wrong to stand up for those that cannot on their own and to work on their behalf? There are many ways we can impact this world of ours and some are called to do it in a way we may not be called to.

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  32. Bill says:

    @s2inkzoo your post (March 8, 2013 at 6:14 am) captured the spirit of my posts perfectly. And I love your reference to J. Vernon McGee. I used to listen to his radio show all the time. So I get the joke about his sly wink and his reference to being right.

    I amazed by how many Christians think they’re right — when many of them are saying two (or three!) different things, sometimes about the same passages of scripture. I spend a lot of time with a lot of different people, reading, listening, and watching. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read something like this: “The Bible clearly says…” and then what someone says the Bible clearly says doesn’t clearly say what they say it says at all. (Try saying that three times quickly.)

    In my life, I keep coming back to a book called “The Bible Made Impossible” by Christian Smith. In that book, Smith outlines what I believe is the problem with Christianity (and Christians) today. I strongly encourage everyone here to read that book. It can be a bit heady at times. But once you grasp his point (that we’re using the Bible in ways it wasn’t intended to be used), you’ll know where I’m coming from.

    @Steve, thank you for your reply (March 8, 2013 at 6:32 am). I know what you mean.

    You wrote:

    “If by using diplomacy in presenting Christ we mean we are to be polite, considerate, gentle, friendly etc. I would agree.

    “However if we are speaking of being conciliatory and offering an exchange of give and take in the presentation of what the Bible says and who and what Jesus has to say, I will never agree.”

    The only thing I’d add to that is this: “…an exchange of give and take” may be helpful when it comes to our adamant assertions that THIS doctrine or THAT belief is the “right” one. It may be it isn’t. So if I may learn something from “…an exchange of give and take,” I will profit.

    @Bruce, I got what you meant in your post (March 7, 2013 at 4:00 pm). Well written, as usual.

    Great reading in this thread! Thanks to everyone for your input.

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