Through a glass darkly

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)KJV

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Stubborn As A Mule

It seems I've been reading a lot lately about the stubborn nature of folks and how that trait has put people in some difficult positions. People hold on to an opinion, a way of doing things, a belief or an idea despite all evidence to the contrary. The simple example is the child who keeps trying to put the square peg into the round hole and gets mad when it doesn't fit. A company president sticks with a management theory he picked up from some leadership guru despite the fact that company morale is in the toilet. I've known some people at my church who hold on to some notion of the way "church oughta be" despite the fact that the culture around them today doesn't resemble their ideal from fifty years ago. President Bush is accused of being stubborn for not modulating his policies in the face of declining poll numbers or opposition from our allies.

Sometimes it's not just individuals, but institutions like my own denomination, the ABCUSA (you can read about that in the previous post); it can be countries like North Korea or Cuba that hold onto their fantasy of their countries being a "workers' paradise" despite the fact that communism, by and large, has been relegated to the "dustbin of history". Even those who label themselves "progressives" can be chained to stubborn ideas- reference those who trot out slogans like, "we must fight for a woman's right to choose" (despite the evidence that the nation is becoming more "pro-life" with time), "we need to spend more money on the poor, education, or whatever social program is their pet project" (despite the trillions thrown at these problems with no effect).

But one person's stubbornness is another's "steadfast commitment to principles" in the minds of many. How can you tell the difference? Was the Apostle Paul encouraging "holy stubbornness" when he wrote:
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Cor 15:58 NASU?

The Psalmist writes:
"You [God] have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands."Psalm 119:4-6 NIV

So the question is, does our belief (that we hold so stubbornly to our chest) line up with God and His ways? Even (or especially) as Christians we can hold opinions that we equate as being from God when they are no more sanctified than our choice of ice cream flavor. Some ideas might even be in opposition to God's stated laws. The thoughts that are only preferences need to be held loosely, the one that are wrong need to be abandoned, but the ones that reflect the character and call of God are the ones to which we must demonstrate wholly (and holy)stubbornness. The result is this:
"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast,because he trusts in You." Isaiah 26:3 NIV


  • At Sat May 13, 07:50:00 PM PDT , Blogger Laura said...

    Well put. Stubbornness and steadfastness often look very much alike, as do humility and wishy-washy-ness (yes, I made that up). And the wisdom to know the difference is often hard won.

  • At Fri May 19, 08:01:00 AM PDT , Blogger DrK said...

    Since the Bible is the objective revelation of God that we in the modern church to evaluate faith and behavior, I suggest that it should be our guide.
    Dr. K in NJ

  • At Fri May 19, 11:54:00 PM PDT , Blogger Ann said...

    True, Dr. K, where God's Word truly speaks on a subject, we need to hold fast to that revealed truth. What is so frustrating is when someone holds their tradition or preference as though Jesus Himself had instituted it. Some examples I have seen in church life -fighting over worship styles, worshipping church programs (Sunday School, visitation nights, Sunday evening services)or valuing church buildings over human beings.
    A more serious issue is the way some in the ABC go on about "soul freedom" and "local autonomy" versus those who hold onto the enforcement of biblical ideas of morality- obviously a debate among Christ followers not easily (or quietly) resolved.


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