Friday, September 11, 2009

Engaging Hate


It's what we encounter when we present the Name of Jesus to skeptics and to different religious groups. If you ever doubt the veracity of Jesus's claim to be the Son of God, ask yourself why the mention of His Name is so objectionable to most people.

I've had some interesting discussions lately with Christians who are befuddled by this rancid attitude, and I thought I'd share some coping methods I've adopted. I don't know if they'll help you, but these are some ways that I deal with frontal attacks on my faith.

1) Remember who they hate. Take yourself out of the equation. Their argument is not with you but with God Himself. Their views reflect the war in their hearts against Him. When you remove yourself from this battle, you can deal with their anger rationally and without fear.

2) Engage them with love. That means, don't argue for the sake of proving you are right. This is your pride at work. Take the discussion to their personal lives. Find out who they are -- what are their interests? Do they have children? What do they do for a living? When you ask these questions, they become a person to you, not an adversary. You can't help but love them. The result is that your responses will be more in keeping with Jesus's heart.

3) Are they throwing questions at you like darts? Take those questions in small chunks. Explain that you want to answer their questions but that it is not possible to tackle every one of them in one fell swoop. This is logical, and anyone who has a smidgen of a fallow heart will follow your point. If the person refuses to allow constructive dialogue on each question, they will not be won. There's no point in continuing the discussion. Tell them you will have to agree to disagree and move on.

4) Engage only the people who are willing to courteously listen. There is a difference between someone who is arguing for the sake of arguing and someone who is arguing for the sake of answering questions in their minds. The former will hurl insults, profanity and diatribes at you. The latter will appreciate that you are taking their questions seriously. Even if you are ploddingly slow at answering them, they will understand your sincerity and respond in kind.

5) Don't get sucked into trying to convert someone with whom you have a sexual attraction. If you're single and this person is a potential boyfriend/girlfriend, back off completely. Allow the arguments to be handled by a strong spiritual leader in your life. Otherwise you will fall into the trap of entering or staying in a relationship "to convert" them, and this has absolutely no good end for you.

6)Pray. Pray. Pray. If you are online in an instant message discussion, pray as the person types their notes. If you don't have an answer, disengage, explain that you have to pray about how to answer and then contact them when God makes it clear to you. It serves no purpose to keep talking if you are not allowing God's Spirit to pepper the conversation with His grace. He has to be the one speaking through you. When you sense that you have taken over the conversation from Him, it's time to request a break from the discussion. Promise the person you will get back to them. Then pray.

Do you have your own methods for dealing with skeptics? Questions? Post them here! Let's open up the discussion so that we can support each other and pray for each other.

How can I pray for you?


  1. This, then, is why so many people "listen" to your words on the written page or your "Let's talk" in person eye-to-eye. You could write a book on technique OR on the hundreds of people who just approach you with questions. A world-wide readership puts you in a unique position to ENGAGE people at a MEANINGFUL level. All kinds of people visit this site. Your newsroom technique of asking questions and writing "on point" in response to questions is being used for Kindgom building. Way out in the woods in the Rafferty's log cabin, God comes. Pain doesn't stop it; fatique doesn't stop it; orders from others don't stop it; your major hours spent on your "regular job" of writing don't stop it. God keep sending and sending the opportunities because He can trust you to be a vessel through which He can work to gently lead others. What a JOY you are to His heart!

  2. Practical and very timely for me Heidi; I especially like point one--remembering who they hate! Jesus asks us roll it all over onto him. He can handle it.

    Good to hear from you.