"Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame." 1st Peter 3:13-16

Historically, the world has either sought to tame Christianity (dilution and assimilation) or hunt it to extinction (persecution). By the grace of God, His remnant continues to persevere and mature through both. Even in these parasitic and aggressive environments, Christians can and should risk good conversations.

Can a distinction be made between respecting someone’s beliefs and respecting someone’s right to hold their own beliefs?

Is it possible to respect a person and respect that person’s freedom to hold a belief, yet reject what they believe?

Is there a way to be open-eared (sincere, respectful listening) but still guard your mind (the Apostle Peter would say, “Be sober-minded”)?

A good discussion needs horsepower and lots of it, but it also needs a transmission. Just because a transmission is in neutral or reverse doesn’t reduce the horsepower available. Silence, listening, even backing up and rearticulating thoughts don’t require us to turn off the ignition to our beliefs, but without the right application of timing and gearing that a transmission offers, the horsepower of our beliefs are rendered useless, or worse, destructive. I have a 1972 Ford Crew Cab 4X4 powered by a big block 460 ARR! ARR! ARR! I had a young man borrow it once who wasn’t familiar with the concept of a transmission (at least not a manual). He turned the key, fired up them horses, and drove right over my wife’s tree and almost into my well house.

There are also specific places and times to use our transmissions in different ways. A suburban neighborhood is probably not the place to lock in both axles, drop into second at 4,000 RPMs, and power-shift into third. Ms. Mable, greeting people at the local grocery store with a sweet “Good morning” would probably not profit from a curt Socratic inquisition into the axiological implications of “good!”

It is equally inappropriate (and arguably dangerous) to idle your way through a demolition derby. Respect never calls us to compromise what we know to be true.

While it is never okay to plow over someone (especially just for the fun of it), discussions can foster a safe place to get off the road, rev up those engines, and let the mud fly a bit.


How much does our eternal relationship with God cost us?

Paul says it costs nothing – absolutely free.
“The free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many…the free gift…brought…the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. justification…the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 5:15-17 & 6:23)

Jesus says it costs everything – reaching far beyond the financial and physical to include even our relationships.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple…For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost…So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:25-33)

So, which one is it? Is it free or does it cost us everything? Yes!

Our eternal relationship with God in Christ and the ensuing fellowship in the Holy Spirit is absolutely free in that there is no possible accumulation valuable enough to purchase it. Our greatest wealth, our best efforts, our impeccable theology, our faithful religion…all rubbish…all filthy rags before the Lord.

Our relationship with God in Christ and the ensuing fellowship in the Holy Spirit costs us everything in that we must empty our hands of everything to receive it. Our treasured possessions, family ties, deepest desires, even self-preservation...all relinquished…all surrendered to the Lord.

God’s gift of redemption is far too expensive to be purchased with anything we could bring, and far too large to be received holding on to anything from this world. Empty your hands before the Lord and receive His free gift of reconciliation and be filled with the abundant grace found in fellowship with Him.