I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where we as Christians go wrong in how we deal with others. I recently was directed to a blog called “The Raving Theist.” Formerly “The Raving Atheist,” the writer of this blog has recently become a Christian. He has decided to continue blogging and to leave his blog in the circle where it started, although the name and purpose have changed. You can find story of his conversion beginning here. Do me a favor and stop by his blog, drop him a word of encouragement and pray for him…he’s a new Christian right out there on the front lines of the battle. C.T. Studd once said:
“Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell, I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of Hell.”
Theist, I think you’ve got your rescue shop!
How do we reach out to people? Clearly, Christianity at its root would have us being kind to others, patient, joyful and loving. But living in this broken world and possessing the human nature that we all do, it often doesn’t look that way at all. We fight amongst ourselves, we judge, we come off looking pious or cruel or hypocritical.
Truth is truth, and we should never deny or undermine that. However, if we want to be taken seriously…if we want to be the Church (as in the body of Christ as a church, each working together to be a whole) that Christ commissioned us to be, we need to take a hard look at how we are perceived by the world and where there might be truth to accusations made against us. We need to be prepared to answer hard questions, define our beliefs, and live them out as consistently as we can. Here are some thoughts on how we can make things better…
Do Your Due Diligence…don’t shy away from hard questions.
Because Truth is Truth, we shouldn’t fear the hard questions that people who disagree with us ask. The Atheist point of view has some good questions as to why we believe what we believe…we should take the time to research what these questions are and how to answer them. There are answers to these questions. Will we know them all? Not in this lifetime! But it would help if we knew solid answers to the questions that we can answer, and solid answers as to why we depend on our faith when it comes to the questions with no comprehensible answers. After all, there are things that even the strongest Atheist is taking on faith, too.
If we believe what we believe, we need have no fear that someone else’s questions might prove our faith wrong. We need have no fear that researching the Bible will unearth some great inconsistency that proves it wrong…there have been many, many people over the years who have spent their lives trying to do just that, and consistently the evidence that turns up supports the Bible’s historical accuracy. We might need to go look up an answer, or ask someone more knowledgeable than ourselves, or ponder a question long and hard before answering. That’s fine…there’s no shame in not knowing everything or having an answer for every question on the tip of our tongue. But we have no excuse for running from a tough question, either. Even if the answer ends up being I don’t know the answer but I have faith that God does, and that one day I’ll understand, at least we’re being honest. There are some questions that nobody has an answer to, and any thinking, honest person is going to admit that.
Be Solid, and once you are don’t be afraid of other points of view.
If we are solid in what we believe, we need have no fear that studying another religion, reading books relating to a different faith, or visiting a church with different views will damage our walk with God. Knowing where someone else is coming from is vital when it comes to sharing where you are coming from, and having what you say make sense. If I’m talking about apples and you’re talking about oranges, and we never stop arguing our point for long enough to realize the fact that we’re not even on the same page…we’re never going to be able to understand where the other person is coming from! I’m not saying that we should go out and do a comparative study of world religions and then pick which one sounds the most “true”. I’m saying we should be firm in what we believe and why we believe it, and once we are we should try our best to understand where others are coming from as well. Ask questions. Do the research. Let the other person talk about what he believes and why, and what it means to him. Let this information guide your conversation and give you a common ground to start on. Doing a good job of listening not only gives you information, but also illuminates areas where you might share something and gives you an opportunity to learn, as well.
Tomorrow…part two of Living it out.