Thursday, 21 January 2021
John 6:52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
That's such an obviously silly question, I find it hard to understand why they asked it. How on earth could Jesus have meant that in a straightforward way? He must have been speaking metaphorically. How could a living man give away his body to be eaten by other people - and what good could it possibly do them? The Jewish people around Him at the time must have needed their heads examining.
But look how the enemy used the situation to divide the people and take people away from following Jesus. Where does the word 'dispute' belong among followers of Jesus? Where does Jesus teach His disciples to argue amongst themselves?
When arguments and disputes spring up in the Body of Messiah, we can be sure that the enemy is behind it, making a mountain out of molehill and stirring up dissent. People get defensive, take up positions, stop listening to each other (and God) and you have a full-scale war on your hands!
Questions are fine. If the people listening to Him had said, "I'm sorry - we didn't quite understand that. Could you explain that again?" then guess what? Jesus would have explained because He wanted people to interact with Him, to engage carefully in what He was teaching and make sure that they understood. But the text of John 6 tells us that for some people, the conversation had already gone too far to let that happen.
In our conversations with other believers, we need to hear Paul's words:
Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
That means slowing down, negotiating, asking questions and exploring. Above all, it means listening to the other person and making sure that you really do understand what they are saying and where they are coming from before replying. If we all did that, there would be many less arguments and the Body of Messiah would be a lot less fractured than it is today.