Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Defending One's Faith, By Sarah K.

Defending One's Faith

By Sarah K.

Sometimes the issue at hand becomes so big, it can be easy to forget the bigger picture leads us to the cross. We are often challenged today by many people about our stance as Christians. Often questions like, "Why can't you do that? It seems fine to me." or "That can't be right... why would God make you do something like that?" challenge us to respond... and sometimes we don't have an answer.

Several years ago, I went to a school with some very nice people. Very nice, but not Christians. They were Mormons. On the outside, we looked much the same: we lived morally, never used bad language, obeyed authority, etc. But, inevitably, our viewpoints and beliefs collided. Often, they confronted me on several things I believed, either about God, or what they believed, or my choices. After trial and error, I found the best way to get someone to actually listen to your viewpoint is to simply listen to them. Hearing them out gave me ground and helped me respond clearly. I also learned (thankfully, my friends were forgiving!) that people will not sincerely listen unless you treat them and their beliefs with respect. Saying outright (or not so subtly hinting!) that they're wrong, or becoming aggressive makes both them and you forget the big picture. Speaking with love gave me credibility, and my friends wanted to listen.

A lot of times, when I become involved in an argument, I lose sight of why I'm here, defending what I believe. I forget Jesus' command to tell others, and it just becomes a win-or-lose debate. I have to constantly remind myself that whether I have better arguments or not isn't the issue... it's God who does the heart changing, who makes people say, "I want to know more." Of course, there are times when people just want to argue with you; who only bring it up because they want to refute whatever you say. It's not worth it to get angry, aggressive, or try to argue back. I've found that gently switching the topic to another subject is the often the best thing to do. In those cases, they don't want to hear what I've got to say, so it would be pointless to argue - I'd just be talking into thin air! Thankfully, this didn't happen much with my friends, and I've actually had these tactics used on me when I've lost sight of the "big picture" of the cross, and resorted to thinking that if I use my superior logic, they'll have to give in.

Some encouraging sources that have helped me are - obviously - God's Word (especially 1 Timothy 4:12-16), the Elsie Dinsmore series, and "Stepping Heavenward." Elsie Dinsmore is about a young Southern girl who is a deeply committed Christian. She goes through many trials, but always clings to God. Even though she's fictional, I'm always encouraged by how she handles difficult situations, and hostile people.

"Stepping Heavenward" is a fictional diary of a young girl growing into a woman, and growing in her walk with Christ. It has many real life examples of the kinds of confrontations a Christian could face, and I go there a lot, sometimes for encouragement... much more for advice.

In the end, telling others about Christ is a special privilege we Christians have to share with others about the wonderful love and acceptance we find in Christ Jesus. We have an opportunity to show His love, and to gently point those around us to Him. One of the best ways to keep your eyes fixed on the cross, and to remember why we do what we do is to pray for those who confront us. Pray for wisdom that we respond biblically and lovingly, and pray that those we proclaim the Gospel to will "have ears to hear" (Matthew 11:15).


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