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I wish it wasn’t so, but Christians are some cantankerous, fighting people. At least I am. I’ve stopped pretending I’m not. I don’t mind a good fight, though I’m learning to not start them–unless they need to be started.

It’s taken two years for it to dawn on me that I’m a fighter. You must have two questions reading that sentence: how did it dawn on you and why did it take so long?!

Well, it took so long because I’m thick.

But this blog deserves credit or blame for helping me to see this strife-happy streak in me. For a couple years running, the most popular posts on this blog were the most controversial posts. When I received those reports I was sometimes genuinely surprised. I would say, “I’m not a controversialist.” It was my polite version of “Don’t start none won’t be none.” Which, of course, makes it permissible for me to join the fray if others started it. I know. Sounds like grade school, doesn’t it? “But he started it!”

After saying “I’m not a controversialist” for a second year running, I thought I’d better step back and test myself. So, I decided that 2014 would be a “controversy free year.” I committed to not entering any controversy started by others and I would not start any myself. “My name is Bennett and I ain’t in it” would be the motto for the year.

Thus far, much to my wife’s delight, it’s been a very quiet, controversy-free year. But you might have noticed it’s also been a quiet year of blogging. Turns out I’m a lot like some other people whose blogging juices flow best when there’s a little heat added. When I subtract the things to fight about, I don’t have as much to write about. And the things I could write about don’t move me to write nearly as quickly. Thus the long silences at Pure Church.

But I must say, the sabbatical from strife has been a great joy. I see my own heart and motives more clearly than I did two years ago. Life is far more peaceful and I’m less distracted by all the pixelated opinions floating through the blogosphere. I’m present where I’m present, and that’s a good thing. I’m exercising more self-control over both my keystrokes and those little strokes of anger that sometimes prompted a post. In short, a hiatus from turmoil has been sanctifying.

And it turns out that there are fewer hills to siege and die on than I thought. I thought there were few to begin with, but now I’m convinced there are fewer than the few I initially thought. And some of the hills worth dying on already have much better soldiers attacking them. So I’ve had the privilege of focusing on a couple hills that have my name on them: hills like family time, prayer, Bible reading, hospitality, diet and exercise, good deeds and so on. I haven’t climbed over all those hills yet, but I’ve circled a couple and marked a path. I hope you’ll begin to see that reflected in posts here at Pure Church.

In a time when many evangelicals feel as if the sky is falling and the culture is lost, it might be good for us all to step back, swear off controversy for a while, and determine what really matters most. I can see now that a lot of what I thought was dire was really the angst of someone else who loved controversy and felt like they were on “the losing side.” It wasn’t really my hill, but I borrowed it unawares. And when you step back from some hills you discover that they’re not really that big or they’re not really that significant. You ask yourself, “Really? You’re going to die on that hill?”

Before I die on a hill, I’m now committed to making sure it’s my hill, too. I don’t want to be the equivalent to those anonymous U.N. peacekeeping forces that get sent everywhere to fight every battle. While there’s real value in their role, there’s also real tragedy in fighting the battle of others who could or perhaps should fight those battles themselves. Give me a few well-chosen hills on which to die–or win. If I’m going down, I’d rather be the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts charging Fort Wagner in a war that means everything for me and His Kingdom.

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13 thoughts on “Really? You’re Going to Die on THAT Hill?”

  1. Wesley says:

    Thabiti –
    as a fellow fighter, these words are much appreciated and helpful today. Thankful as ever for the perspective God often brings to my life through your words/thoughts/reflections. God’s peace.

  2. Tom Brainerd says:

    Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Although the posts at Pure Church may have diminished, the efforts put forth on The Porch, both in getting it together and in your written contributions, have been meaningful and helpful.


    Christ’s blessings on you, family and ministry

  3. Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. says:

    Spoken like a man that has acquired wisdom through the crucible of experience. My heart resonated with your comments. Although, I must admit that the Vernon Johns comment on this subject matter also compels me at times: “If you see a good fight, get in it”. My goal is to strike a balance between the sentiments that you’ve expressed here and the Johns quote.

  4. Christy says:

    Mmmmm good words especially for reformed evangelicals.

    Also I noticed the silence. But it has brought to surface my favourite posts. The Monday spoken word stuff. :) (I think it’s always on a Monday)

  5. Bryce says:

    Now I have to watch Glory again.

  6. Jason says:

    Thought I think I agree with the spirit of this piece, I don’t think it’s helpful.

    How much space is there between dying on a hill and eschewing controversy? Should we only get exercised about deal breakers? How could “we” do this, as, observe, sneers about “them” have already begun.

    There doesn’t seem to be a point, only, interestingly, a new controversy.

  7. Jonathan McGuire says:

    Thanks for this brother Thabiti. We’re brothers from different mothers!

  8. daniel says:

    Transparent and refreshing. Thanks.

  9. Mark McNeil says:

    If this were chess I would call yours the Amish Defense.

  10. george canady says:

    I have learned so much from your convictions over the years. I wonder what the modern reformed land scape would look like without your voice. There are a some fighters who look in your direction for approval and correction in approach. Please pray for us as we pray for you.

  11. Sam says:

    It seems to miss the point if Arminianism/Molinism/Calivnism continues to be a hill upon which we die and sacrifice brothers and sisters in Christ.

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Thabiti Anyabwile

Thabiti Anyabwile is a pastor for Anacostia River Church in southeast Washington, DC and a council member of The Gospel Coalition.

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