September 12

Mark 11-12, Psalm 101

The art of debate taught in debate club in school argues any point given, simply for the challenge of winning. Inherent is the concept of no real right vs wrong just building your case. There is often no heart involved in real-life debates. Whether it be pride or personal ideology, one side will go to whatever extreme to win. In the battle over abortion, those desiring legalization needed someone. In the famous Roe vs Wade decision, that someone was Norma McCorvey, who became the anonymous Roe. She was an unfortunate individual who struggled with homelessness, drugs, alcohol, and suicidal ideation. At age 22, and pregnant for the third time, she tried to lie about the circumstances surrounding her pregnancy to get the abortion. Unable, she was directed to two lawyers: Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee. They had her sign an affidavit, which is all they really wanted from her. After that they had very little contact with Norma and by the time the decision of Roe vs Wade came down, she had long since lost contact with her lawyers. She did give birth and the child was adopted. The lawyers could care less. Norma McCorvey eventually became vehemently pro-life. Where is the heart of the people. People protest to protect the spotted owls, baby seals, pit bulls, etc. but often these same individuals ( not all) have no problem with a nation, since that landmark decision, which has taken the lives of over 60 million unborn babies in the name if abortion. Just a couple of years ago due to the concern of the extinction of the 3 inch delta fish in Northern California, farmers lost their livelihood during a sustained drought, due to political debate. We must always check our hearts when debating, do we care if anyone is getting hurt so to win our point.

We see a string of heartless moves and debates in the book of Mark. In Mark 5:1-20, when Jesus confronts the demon possessed man and frees him from this bondage, even though the healing of this man and the restoration of his life can not be denied, the townspeople cared nothing about him but only about the lost swine (which was an illegal business in kosher Israel). They responded to the healing in 5:17, "Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region". After the transfiguration in Mark 9:1-13, He comes upon the scene of a frantic father who has a son who had an evil spirit in him since childhood whom the apostles were unable to free him from. But what does Jesus find upon entering the scene? We read in 9:14, "And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. Caring little for the poor child they chose instead to debate one another. We move from there, to the next section, when Jesus had just told His disciples that He was going to be betrayed and killed, but instead of coming alongside Jesus at this time we see in Mark 9:33-34, Jesus asked them "What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road? But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest." We then go onto the time of testing by the religious authorities after Jesus' Triumphal Entry, in which the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes take turns trying to debate Jesus. We read the first group in Mark 12:13-15, "Then they sent to Him some of the Pharisees and the Herodians, to catch Him in His Words...But He, knowing their hypocrisy,...". All of these situations blinded those debating and disputing from their Savior.

We must all ask ourselves the same question, Where is our heart? Do we really care for others? Are we more concerned about being right? As Christians, even if we know that Christ is the only answer, we can't allow pride to get in the mix when we get pushback from others. The point is not to illustrate our command of Scripture or what we know, but to point them to Jesus. If someone is blinded, rather than continue to elevate the tenor of the discussion it is better to humble ourselves and back off, not conceding that the other individual was correct, but caring more for the other's soul than our point of view. This goes in every sphere of our lives. Too often we allow the debating of other topics to disqualify us from the only really important topic, salvation through the gospel message. We must contemplate when debating politics, sports teams, music preference, anything for that matter. When we allow these debates to escalate, we must quickly assess whether or not it is our pride which is causing this. Those in Jesus' day often missed Him because their focus was wrong. May we be singularly focused on the only One that matters. May we not allow ourselves to be pulled off our course and our commission to reach out to the unsaved world. May we care more about Him and others than about ourselves, which is what Jesus essentially said when answering in Mark 12:28-34, as to what is the first or greatest commandment.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster