Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. – 1 Peter 3:15-17 (The Message)
I had a very interesting, yet amazingly difficult conversation with a couple friends last night. It’s a conversation I kind of expected to have at some point, but still was not prepared. Neither of them are Christian, and both are outspoken and opinionated about most things. I also really like both of them and enjoy their company. However, last night was hard.
One of them considers herself a ‘reformed Jew.’ The other grew up in a Christian home, but no longer believes most of it. He also has a journalist mentality and asks tons of hypothetical questions.
So anyway, we were at dinner last night, and we started talking about faith – what I believe, specifically. that is not difficult for me to articulate – they know I work at a church – they know that I believe in Jesus Christ and the Bible and the authority of scripture. I believe in right and wrong, good and bad, heaven and hell. That was the easy part. Answering their questions and hypothetical situations was hard.
I realized something, as well. I have no idea how to defend my faith when someone doesn’t believe the Bible is literal, true, or inspired. My arguments for Christ, for His plan of salvation, are based on the scripture of the old and new testaments. My reasons for why I believe, other than the heart-internal stuff that is hard to articulate, is found in the Scripture around which I live. And, when someone says the Bible is full of good suggestions and not meant to be taken literally. The “well, this is what it says in the Bible” argument falls flat in those situations, or at least it did for me last night. How do you defend that? How do you argue for your religion, when someone is argumentative and wants to just see how far they can go? How do you stand up for your God when someone readily believes that there is no punishment, no retribution, not absolutes? How do you articulate clearly and openly the truth you KNOW in your heart to be true when the basis of that truth is removed?
I did a skit in college about three girls, one of which only knew of faith and life what her parents had drilled into her. At the end, faced with a world of uncertainty, she wonders what she believes “well, about anything.” I felt a little of that last night. I know what I believe. I know what in my heart I hold to be true. I know the impact and difference my faith has made in me and the lives of people I know. I believe in God, that Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of prophesy, both God and Man, and that His death saved me from my own sin. I believe I am not perfect, but am forgiven. I believe that nothing can separate me from the love of my Creator. I believe without God I am nothing.
But sharing that faith is harder than I ever thought, especially with people who respect you and appreciate you, but do not believe there is any way what you say is true. How do you do it?