The Sure Guy and The Gray Guy

Hey guys, remember me. My name is Matt. I used to blog here regularly. I just got back from the wonderful city of Mesquite, and boy do I have a lot to say.

I cannot help but consider the relationship between myself and Jake a perfect case study for Ryan’s epistemological theory regarding those who more inclined to be sure in biblical interpretation and those who are more inclined to be gray.  For those of you are new to this discussion, I am more inclined to sure and Jake is more inclined to gray.Jake’s wife likes to laugh and joke that Jake and I don’t agree on
anything. Yet we both consider each other good friends, we share prayer requests and struggles and rejoice and mourn with each other. He is a true brother in Christ and of all the pain of the last year, I look back and see my relationship with Jake as one of the best things that
has come out of it.

For the sake of helping you understand where we are coming from, let me briefly describe how different our upbringings were:

Jake: Pastor’s kid in the mid-west where all morality was black and white (alcohol bad)
Matt: Atheist/recovering alcoholic’s kid in Las Vegas where truth was relative (yet my mom never stopped drinking in front of my recovering alcoholic dad, who now drinks socially)

We both rebelled from these upbringings hard in college:

Jake: dressing like a homosexual (no, really, he wrote a blog about it here. When I first met Jake he had a weird “Cheetah Print” fetish)
Matt: becoming a legalistic thinking/moralist

Now, keeping in mind that I tend to be a bit more sure and Jake tends to be a bit more gray, the following are the two biggest issues he and I have dealt with this past year:

– A mutual friend abandoning his sick wife.

– A mutual friend throwing a holiday frat party.

Now how do a sure guy and a gray guy deal with these two scenarios? Very differently.  I will spare you most of the details of these two conversations (although Jake, please know that I am only putting the lid on them for your sake, if you want to bring them out I’m fine).

When our friend was abdicating his role as husband and abandoning his wife I, as a sure guy, I was able to love our friend by speaking truth into his life that Jake, as a gray guy didn’t/wouldn’t (I am not making a judgment call for motive). As a gray guy Jake was able to love my friend in a very safe environment that I could not provide. As far as fruit is concerned, well our friend refused to repent, so we cannot exactly say either of our styles worked.

After attending our friend’s Christmas frat party we had a similar exchange part of which can be viewed here. As far as fruit is concerned, our friends have refused to repent, so we cannot exactly say that either of our styles worked.

I would seem that we both have over-realized interpretations of certain parts of the Bible and under-realized interpretations of other parts of the Bible. As a sure guy I see in myself all the problems that Jake presents. As a gray guy, I see in Jake all the problems Ryan presents. I would like to get on my soapbox and say that I believe Jake postures himself over certain parts of scripture and instead of letting them define what certain things like “love” and “church” mean, he goes with what he thinks “love” and “church” should mean. I really would. And while I will not tell you that I find that statement untrue, what I will say is that I cannot get up on my soapbox and tell that to him becuase in reality:

I myself take my cue of what “love” and “church” mean from certain verses while marginalizing others. So that while I might assume to have a posture by where I let the scriptures define what certain things look like, I do it by marginalizing other verses.

I have been discovering that my main spiritual gift is prophecy (proclamation). The thing that has been so convicting lately is that all the prophets in the Bible were constantly on their faces praying for God to change people and have mercy on them just as much, if not more, than yelling at them (they still yelled mind you). Do I do this? Or do I bash people with the truth of the Bible hoping it will change them? I find this to be just as fruitless as not proclaiming truth and hoping to love and create safe environments for them to come to me when ready. People are never “willing” to repent, that is why God constantly sends people to verbally warn them throughout scripture.

I cannot help but think that if Jake and I were more like the other that we would see more fruit. Creating safe environments where people are loved and cared for. Environments where they are warned that sin leads to death and that Christ came to take away sin by those of us who are so wrecked by their sin that we have been pleading to God on their behalf.

Thanks for carrying the blog for a while Ryan, but it won’t be necessary any longer; I’m back.

matt

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3 Responses

  1. Matt and Ryan,

    Thank you both for the wonderful posts. I figured I would leave one comment for both of you. I’ll start with Ryan:

    I hesitate to argue with either of you as you both have well exceeded my formal biblical (and secular for that matter) education. You yourself said it was the muslim’s intent to convert Jerusalem (albeit through force). If the English hadn’t been “sure” that God wanted the Christians to have Jerusalem, what were they fighting for? Freedom for the Jews? Even if you discount that example, I have many, many more. Just look at Westboro Baptist Church who has a website named godhatesfags and pickets the funerals of fallen heroes with signs so dispicable I wonder if it makes God cry. Oh, and they are also against any type of birth control (and I mean ANY type) or fertilization help. I.e if God wants you to have a kid, you’ll have it.

    But, I’m pretty sure I followed your thinking with the “even if your unsure your still sure” arguement (and I really to appreciate the parentheses explaining the big words. That’s not a joke either). If I understand what your saying, I probably agree with what you say. Perhaps it’s the way people act on their “sureness that I have a problem with.

    Matt, I also appreciate your analysis of our situations. I must admit, I prefer ‘rockstar’ to ‘homosexual’ but it made me laugh. And you showed just how much environment plays into any belief situation. My first blog ever began after a conversation with an uncle who asked if I would still be a Christian if a was born in Iran. I digress, but good analysis none the less. I think my last statement to Ryan would be true to you also. We actually (probably) agree much more theologically than my wife gives us credit for. In the two situations you mentioned, I think our beliefs were the same: divorce is wrong, Christians getting drunk is wrong. But it’s in our action that we differ. Do iblack courage or conviction? Do you too bold or perhaps ill-timed?

    Perhaps it’s not the sureness I have a problem with. Jesus must’ve been the most “sure” person to walk this earth, and I thank God for that. But Jesus single biggest enemy on this earth were with those who had become so ‘sure’ that they didn’t even recognize God when he stood before them. We all pick and choose what scripture we will use to justify our actions. But we can never confuse Christ’s reaction to the woman at the well, the prostitute who annointed him, zaccheus, the adulturous woman, the drunk party go-ers who ran out of wine, or even the rich young ruler. Speaking the truth in love. Perhaps if we spend more time together, a little bit of each other will rub off on each other.

    Keep up the good fight.

  2. btw, I commented from my phone. An bad grammar I’m blaming on Apple…

  3. Love your comments Jake. You are more brilliant than you give yourself credit for. I think we both stand in unity in the conviction that sureness that travels in smugness is repulsive. Anyone that would have a website that says “God hates Fags” or stand outside military funerals and tell the people that their son’s are burning in hell is awful, and I am SURE that they are wrong…

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