His hostility was apparent from the first words out of his mouth. He hated Christians and the Christian faith. Over time he had developed a list of reasons why he hated religion and numerous arguments against it. He was angry and ready to shame anyone who stood against him.
I recently saw this behavior on a YouTube video. It was posted as a tool for motivating us to develop better apologetics or defense of the faith. I watched the video twice and kept thinking about all the possible arguments that I would have used in this situation. Quickly my mind began to replay every discussion I have experienced like this through the years.
A few days later I was reading an article on the internet, and I did the unthinkable. I scrolled down the page and read the comments section. As usual, it was a brutal example of the worst communication on the planet. Within the lines, a man had begun to list all the reason he did not believe in Jesus and the Bible. One by one people had tried to refute his arguments and each time he shot them down. Once again, I sat there wondering how I would have handled this situation had it happened to me.
There is this natural inclination inside of me to argue my point and try to convince other people that my view is correct. Through the years I have developed an extensive list of responses to defend my faith. I believe my life of faith is easily supported on many levels.
Honestly, this is the way the Church usually tells people to approach the topic of belief. Have a list of arguments ready and set yourself for a verbal war.
I want to suggest something else to you today. Years ago, speaker Bill Gothard said an important line (at least that is where I first heard it). He said, “Behind every atheist is one extremely painful event.”
Through the years I have found that his insight was correct. The people who adamantly oppose faith are those who have been hurt the deepest. Someone they looked up to hurt them and that person claimed to be a Christian. Possibly someone who should have looked out for them in the name of Jesus didn’t do their job. Maybe they lost someone they loved to death or distance, and it hurt their soul. There are one of a thousand possibilities of where the damage might have come from for anyone. This hurt fuels a passion not for the gospel but rather against it.
As a result of my experiences, my new response to those who argue against my faith is simply, “I am sorry about whoever hurt you.”
Their general response is to deny the pain. They have been living in denial for years, and one line is not going to change that mindset. But I reiterate to them that I am sorry for whatever has caused them so much pain that they feel the need to lash out.
Honestly, the conversation usually goes nowhere. At least initially it does not. Hopefully, they will process what I am saying in the privacy of their own mind and understand my point. I find it frequently produces better conversations down the road than arguing.
I am not trying to convince you to stop defending your faith. I think you should know what you believe and why you believe it. I am asking you to offer grace to people who are hurting, and their only stance has been to lash out in anger. Extending grace opens the doors of the heart better than kicking on them.