Thursday, January 29, 2015

Quelling Quarrels

Yesterday afternoon I arrived home to find my son plopped on the couch enjoying an episode of one of Marvel's latest animated series, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. In this episode, Hulk and his argumentative ally, Red Hulk (aka General Ross), are merged into a two headed behemoth thanks to the reality-warping powers of the Impossible Man. As if this isn't bad enough, the power-sucking pterodactyl, Sauron, saps the Impossible Man's powers and unleashes destructive havoc on the Hulk's hometown, Vista Verde, with the help of the psychically-controlled Fin Fang Foom. Despite being melded down the middle the twin titans overcome their differences and manage to smash the two reptilian rogues! In the end, both Hulks admit, "I don't know if we'll ever see eye to eye on what makes a hero, but I can tell you one thing we'll always agree on... SMASH!"

The whole episode underscores the value of teamwork and learning to get along despite our differences. It's a common theme in superhero cartoons. It's also a common theme in Scripture. The Bible instructs, "Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful" (2 Timothy 2:23-24 NIV). Unfortunately, we Christians aren't always so good at keeping this command. We often debate, dispute, and even divide over trivial matters. An old rhyme that puts it this way:

What joy to love the saints above
When I get home to glory.
To love below, the saints I know,
Well, that’s another story!

The Apostle Paul felt that putting aside our differences and working together was so important, that he publicly called out two women from the church in Philippi. Here's what he says: "Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life" (Philippians 4:2-3 NLT). Paul's advice to these two Christian women is to set aside their egos and settle their disagreement with the help of a mature, impartial friend. Disagreements and disputes are going to happen, that’s just part of being individuals; it’s how we handle them that matters.

When Christians fight amongst themselves, nobody wins. Instead, let’s heed Peter’s advice: “And now this word to all of you: You should be like one big happy family, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds” (1 Peter 3:8 TLB). When Christians learn to put aside our differences and work together toward a common good, the only one getting smashed will be Satan!

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