Lent – Day 11 – Jesus Questions

“What is all this arguing about?” (Mark 9:16)

We argue about everything.

There are the big ticket items, of course — politics and religion. Some families forbid anyone from raising these issues at family gatherings. But then we argue in the workplace and in our churches. We disagree with leaders, policies, and practices. Then we argue in our marriages and families, often over very small things. Who will do the dishes tonight, make the bed in the morning, or take out the trash? How much time does a spouse or a child really need to play video games?

“What is all this arguing about?”

ArgumentIn Mark 9, Jesus asks the question. A crowd, including religious leaders, had gathered around the disciples and were arguing with them. Apparently, they felt irritated that the disciples couldn’t cast a destructive demon out of a young boy. Presumably the disciples were defending themselves, and an argument ensued…until Jesus showed up.

About two years ago I realized how argumentative I had become. If someone said it was three miles to the store, I’d correct them…three and a half. If they said that paper bags were better than plastic, I’d argue the opposite. I had no good reason; just a bad habit. I could analyze where it came from, I guess, but I just decided to quit. Cold turkey. And a cloud lifted from over me, that I hadn’t realized had been hovering over me for a long time.

“What is all this arguing about?”

We might argue because we have thin skin or because we believe that precision is next to godliness. We might argue because it makes us feel superior or because people just irritate us. We might argue because we feel deep convictions. But this I know; we learn to argue. And we can stop anytime we choose.

Marriages can subtly descend into the abyss of niggly arguments and corrections. Far too many churches split when members decide to argue over non-essentials. Organizations suffer when members or employees build a culture of correction. And I’m not sure how many people have been successfully argued into the Kingdom of God with proofs for this or that.

Ultimately, our choice to argue generally results in the same kind of impasse that Jesus came upon in Mark 9. Belligerence, self-defense, and division hardly maps a unified way forward…in any relationship. Our insistence on being right is both unseemly and unattractive.

If you’re battling with an arguing, correcting tendency, perhaps this Day 11 of Lent could become the first day of an entirely new way of relating to others. It might be time to quit, cold turkey. Something to consider.

“What is all this arguing about?”

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4 Responses to Lent – Day 11 – Jesus Questions

  1. Mike Preston says:

    YIKES – Always being “right,” on the “defensive,” having to “win the argument.” condescendingly showing your (pseudo) “intellect….” Relationship destroying “stuff.” A friend of mine once told me one way to avoid these circular arguments was to stop playing ping-pong and just play “ping.” In that when someone said something to you, wherein you would normally hit it back, you just receive it, but do not hit it back… and the potential debate/argument just dies on it’s own and you move on.

  2. Barry Thygesen says:

    Good morning David. I have often journalled to see the context of when I argue. Some is just my “Justice side” standing up. The other predominate issue is ‘when I don’t feel listened to’. That probably is to do somewhat to self esteem. Guess I need to do a bit more work here too.

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