Sunday, October 5, 2003

The Opposite Spirit

David Ruis used to practice this approach a lot. Instead of getting upset and denouncing the rampant stingy-ness and miserly attitude that permeates a lot of Winnipeg, David would pray publicly: "Lord, brand us with generosity!" It had the effect of giving language to the "life side" of the equation, instead of focussing on the negative.

One of the best examples of this that I have personally seen was in Victoria in the early 1990's. The Vineyard there was hosting a "Power Evangelism" conference, at a rented facility in the Esquimalt area (Victoria's "ghetto").

During the three-day conference, about fifteen adults from other churches were picketing outside the front door. They were waving signs that said "Vineyard Repent" and "An Evil & Adulterous Generation Looks For A Sign", and eagerly reading passages from John McArthur's recently-published Charismatic Chaos as "proof" while they accosted people attending the conference.

The people hosting and attending the conference were incredible examples of "bless those that curse you" (Luke 6:28)! They brought coffee & donuts to the picketers all weekend long (typical Vineyard -- coffee & donuts available!), engaged them in conversation, and treated them with kindness and respect. Some of the picketers gradually softened up a bit after several days, although a few would occasionally "catch" themselves being friendly, give us disgusted looks, and go back to shouting "repent" to people entering the main meeting area.

You couldn't help but be impressed with the Christ-likeness of the conference organizers in the way they did not give in to the temptation to engage these people in arguments, trying to refute them or their ideas, etc. They simply served and loved.

In the "world of the blog", it's easy to sometimes cross the line between "dialogue" (friendly, respectful sharing of ideas and gleanings with others of various backgrounds and discoveries) and "diatribe" (attempting to 'prove' the rightness of our own opinion and the 'error' of anyone who doesn't agree with us). When "dialogue" becomes "diatribe", and "conversation" devolves into "competition", everyone loses. It's a subtle but very real trap -- and I've screwed up in this area more than once, myself -- but one we would do well to learn to discern and guard ourselves against.
"Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful." (2 Timothy 2:23-24 NIV)
Coffee? Donut?

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