Understanding the Rules of Engagement

Tuesday Re-mix –

My South African friend, Frank, tells a great story about being in a motorcycle gang when he turned his life over to the Lord.  A member of the gang confronted him: “So, I hear you’re a Christian now.”  “That’s right,” said Frank.  The gang member continued, “So, if I hit you, you have to turn the other cheek.”  “That’s right,” said Frank, “That’s what the scripture tells me.”  So the gang member belted Frank, right across the face.  Frank obediently turned the other cheek.  The gang member hit him again, maybe a little harder this time.  Frank straightened himself out, looked back at the gang member…and flattened him.  Then Frank told him, “Scripture gives no further instructions after that.”

It’s important to know the rules of engagement.

Plumb line

In the Christian church, the rules of engagement are all spelled out for us in God’s Word.  The Bible, then, becomes the cultural guideline for all of our interaction with one another, whether in times of conflict or in times of agreement.  In most Christian churches, the Bible is held among the very highest of values.  Understanding that culture (i.e., the rules of engagement), then, requires understanding God’s Word.  I think it is fair to say that, in the church today, one of the critical limiting factors to finding peace with one another is Biblical illiteracy.  By the same token, all of the most effective peacemakers I know in the church, past or present, have had a pretty good working knowledge of scripture.

In the secular world, at least in our culture, the highest value in mediation is the agreement.  In other words, that the parties agree is what matters most.  It doesn’t matter so much whether the agreement is fair or unfair or good or bad.  If the parties agree, the deal is done.  The agreement itself is the highest value.

It is not like that in the church.  We have a “plumb line” against which everything is measured.  The parties may well agree, but if that agreement does not measure up to God’s Word, then the agreement is no good.  God’s Word is the only truth that matters and is the only assurance we have of a God-centered peace with one another.

So, as a peacemaker, I have devoted myself to the daily study of God’s Word.  I never stop learning from it.  I am quite certain I could spend a thousand lifetimes studying it and still find new lessons in it.  So, everyday I open it and allow it to wash over me a little more.  My effectiveness as a peacemaker among God’s people depends on it.

I happen to know that my friend Frank also studies it daily.  You see, he is a peacemaker as well.  And for peacemakers in the church, studying God’s Word is a habit.  So is turning the other cheek.

© Blake Coffee

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on this website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Blake Coffee.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: © Blake Coffee. Website: churchwhisperer.com