You have heard it said (because every Christian book references at least once) that if you do something super religious but have not love then you are a resounding gong – but I tell you, if you speak and do not show love it matters not what you are defending or saying, as that absence of love renders whatever you say untrue.
I’m amazed at the sheer enormity of the in-fighting between Christians. I mean it’s bad. In fact I plan on addressing this puzzling phenomenon in the future, fully aware no dent will be made. And I will not shift blame – as many will point out some of the near-bigotry things that come out of conservative Christians mouths, toward homosexuals or drunks for instance, while conversely the more progressive side of Christianity seems to find no problem in tearing the fundamentalists to shreds either.
One thing I’ve found is that in those instances like I mentioned above, the response given to the attack in a way can determine the truth of the allegations being made. In a debate over a theological question, if one side gets all amped up, raises their voice, uses tones and belittles the other person, it doesn’t matter how sound and logical their argument is because the lack of love invalidates everything they’re saying. The person showing the love is showing that where they stand is not simply upon a well constructed set of ideas, but the peace of God.
I know because I’ve seen it. I’ve seen some famous Christians (most recently Doug Pagitt and Brian McLaren) get chewed out publicly, called heretics, be named evil things and yet in response they showed love and patience, returning none of what they were given. I’m not stating any kind of alignment with either of the two folk I’ve named, though honestly after seeing them respond with grace I was far more interested in their perspective rather than the other side. Even if the other side appealed to my reason and understanding of Christianity, seeing love spoken back shows me that the other guys get it, and they have it.
I was recently being told what I was doing wrong at work, but because the person used anger and fear as a means to control and manipulate I found that I had little interest in what they were trying to tell me. That anger and fear in fact took away whatever credibility their perspective had. This is why I’m adding to the infamous 1 Corinthians 13 bit about moving mountains but doing it without love gains you nothing, because I’ve seen that arguing correctly without love can undo everything that’s trying to be accomplished.
So if you’re engaged in an argument and the “opponent” is finding more and more fuel to throw on their wildfire my best advice is to remain calm and speak love. Your words and your argument will carry far more weight when its enveloped in love, and conversely their words and their argument will sink to the bottom of the lake for it has not love.