Two contrasting responses
I've found it both encouraging and stimulating to see that people who don't share my Christian perspectives read my hubs. After over forty years of "preaching to the choir" that's refreshing. Some who oppose my views insult and ridicule my writings, others have been quite kind but just as firm in their disagreement. Both challenge me to practice what I preach
I concluded one exchange as follows. "Here's the choice as I see it. Either the mysterious, oft puzzling deity who reveals himself in the Bible is the true God or man is (each of us and humankind collectively). Given humankind's record and the sordid distortions of my own heart I choose the first option as far more rational." In the second exchange, which continues, my friend from across the pond wrote, "As you say, LiftandSoar, the divides between our 'overall world and life views' seem to mean that we will sadly never see these events from the same angle :)"
Now what to do? Depends on the relationship developed during the discussion. In one of the instances mentioned above I felt my opponent was ridiculing me and making sport of convictions I hold dear. In such cases better to respectfully say good-by. In the second instance the person taking issue with me is respectful and attractive. She was no less assertive than the first, but there's a sense in which I've come to consider her a friend.
This is the Scripture I pray shapes my attitude. "In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience..." I Peter 3:14-17 I suggest it as a motto verse for all hubbers who follow Jesus.
The Christian faith has all the answers needed to satisfy the searching humble soul. But folks aren't persuaded as much by well crafted arguments as they are by genuine love and respect for them. So I want to avoid anything that even sounds self-righteous and judgmental.
Let's listen hard
Another motto-type Scripture for us might be James 1:19, "Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." To turn away from listening to another is a very subtle and painful form of anger. It communicates to the other that he has nothing to offer you, that she is worthless. Here are my reasons for listening to the most obstreperous naysayer.
1. The Scriptures say it's useless to close our ears and hearts in anger to those who oppose us. Why do something that is futile?
2. The person speaking or writing is a human being created in the image of God endowed with the ability to love and to reason and to conclude. I may disagree with him, but that doesn't change the fact that he bears in some way the likeness of the God I claim to love.
3. God uses even those who deny his existence or are opposed to everything Christian to teach his own people lessons we need to learn. Last I checked, I still have a lot to learn
4. It is a tremendous act of love and respect to listen to another. Jesus taught us to love even our enemies.
Since writing this hub I came across a story that illustrates my point better than I can express it. Check out The Gospel for Sale? or On Display?
Behind every opinion
Yes, behind every deeply held conviction there is a story. Listen attentively long enough. You'll discover that it's not about the intellectual sparring or even the evidences. There's a wound that cries out for healing. A sincere seeker is put down by those in the know. I child is abused by those professing to love Jesus. A sensitive soul sees through the antics of hypocritical church leaders. These and many other events leave deep soul-wounds. Wounds many an opponent may not even be aware of, but are betrayed by the caustic cynical manner in which he engages us.
He'll attack our person, our intelligence, our integrity. Ours is to bear these as did our Savior so much more than we'll ever have to. Our security is not in winning an argument but in the knowledge that, by God's amazing grace, our names are written in heaven.
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