I really hate to get into arguments with people I love and care about. As I read today’s Scripture passage I get the feeling that Jesus did as well. Now as much as I hate getting into arguments, I am aware there are people who live to argue. They thrive on the tension, the perceived competition, and the emotion that can come when people enter into a war with words.
Jesus makes the most positive statement, “I am the light of the world.” Jesus follows this statement with one that is as much an invitation as it is a statement of fact. But there are those who want to challenge, to debate, to argue the point. Those in dispute with Jesus use an argument from authority. “What testimony is there to back up what you are saying?” they challenge.
Jesus answers them, not for the purpose of winning a debate, but to offer an apology that speaks to the heart of problem those who oppose Jesus. They think they know Jesus, they think they know God, and so they really are not interested in the truth, just pressing the argument.
I feel certain that Jesus was exasperated with them. If they would but listen to Jesus, really listen, then their own hearts would testify to the truth of what Jesus was sayings. But instead, they were too busy projecting their own darkness upon Jesus so they had no chance of seeing the light.
Jesus was not there to argue with them, but to guide them to the relationship that had been looking for but always falling short. Jesus words come in agreement with the words of the Father. Jesus words come with the validity of a relationship and commitment of words desiring to lift up, renew and restore. Arguments seldom do any of these things.
A commitment not to argue is a difficult one. The commitment to speak the truth in love requires focus and discipline. It requires looking at all people differently. I pray I can come to live with such an expectation of myself.