Homeschool P.E. was at a gymnastics center today. Eastin was off school and she was THRILLED to be able to go and see her homeschool friends. As usual, the moms all sat at the side, watching and visiting with each other. I wonder sometimes if we should be better about participating in P.E. with our kids -- I mean, we all could use some physical activity. On the other hand, we all also could desperately use a break from our kids and some social time with other moms.
Anyway, a couple moms got to talking about certain members of their family who were unbelievers and the frustration they feel in dealing with them. How they just can't understand their thinking. How they don't seem to respond to reason or want to consider the opposing point of view. How they have other family members who are not strong in their faith or even open skeptics, but at least they go to church so they can live with that. Yada yada . .
I nodded and tried to look sympathetic. But I wasn't comfortable with the tone of the conversation. I found myself wondering more at my friends than at their unbelieving family members. Are such doubts really so incomprehensible to them? Have they never questioned the tenets of their faith? Is this the way they always interact with unbelievers? And just how many unbelievers do they interact with? Do they really think these loved ones' eternal destiny is dependent on their coming up with the perfect, foolproof argument for the faith? I may be inaccurately interpreting their hearts here, but this is certainly how it sounded.
I have questioned the tenets of my faith. Frequently and deeply. I thoroughly sympathize with the skeptic. But more than that, I realize that while it is important to be able to answer the skeptic's questions, there is usually more behind their rejection of the faith than unanswered questions. Even if there were a perfect, foolproof argument for the faith, there would be those that reject it. Their position has more to do with the condition of their heart than that of their intellect.
I wanted so much to tell my friends, "Look. Stop talking at them when they obviously don't want to listen. That does no good and much harm. Love them. Effusively and unconditionally. Give them a concrete picture of the God who didn't wait until they got their doctrine and their behavior right to give His life for them.
"And then focus your attention on your own walk with God. Stop asking them questions about their belief system; give them a reason to want to ask you about yours. Make sure your spiritual life is something to be envied, not something to be scorned."
I know when I went through my pits of doubt, the only thing that kept me even searching for some kernel of truth in Christianity was the memory of a handful of people I have known in my life. People who honestly staked everything on their beliefs -- and it worked for them. Their lives were their testimony more than their words. I couldn't argue the fact that they had something I wanted.
I did kind of try to say this stuff, but I felt like I was just talking at them. Like they weren't up to hearing it. Or maybe they were just in give-me-sympathy mode -- don't fix my problems, just agree with me about how awful my problems are. I've been there. It's a woman thing.
Once again, it saddens me how lousy a job we believers do of "glorifying God" in our world. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples -- if you bug them about their messed-up theology every time you see them . . . if you manipulate them to get them into church every Sunday whether or not they want to be there . . . if you look at them with a mixture of pity and disdain whenever they express some unBiblical idea . . . "
No, I don't think that's what Jesus said . . .