You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. –James 2:19
Yesterday, on two occasions, my life intersected with tensions created in the above verse. James does not rebuke for heretical dogma, but rather rebukes for the fact that the correct dogma is held by a heretical heart. The demons know the truth and hate it, and know they hate it. I sometimes wonder if many Christians have a similar posture toward the Christian creeds, but while not outright hating them with trembles of terror, dilute them with the water of their own apathy, or idolize them (and themselves) by infusing them with their own ego.
Theology is filled with controversial topics, and therefore, strong opinions about such topics. Consider the last time you got into a conversation about the nature of hell, men and women in ministry, homosexuality and the church, or any other hot button issue. You may have had a strong opinion about this topic. You may have had great biblical arguments to back up your opinion. The question I would want us all to consider is this: Is my desire that the world know the truth or fall in love with the truth? This greatly effects how we ought to go about engaging with one another.
To help a soul fall in love with the truth takes tremendous skill and is an art that must be learned, practiced, and most importantly developed by the Spirit’s inner purging of ones own heart. I must let go of my agenda. I must actually be humble (not just practice a form of cordiality that feigns humility). I must believe that the good, true, and beautiful truth is so complete in and of itself, it has no need for my authoritative rhetoric. It is equally expressed with word or silence.
In my encounters with many Christian leaders and seminary students, I have observed a pattern of discomfort in this open ended posture. Why is this? How has Christian culture prevented this essential pastoral skill from developing in so many? How do we grow?