Monday, January 25, 2010

I need a thicker skin!

A group of friends began a discussion.

One friend asked, why do Christians think that they need to tell non Christians about their beliefs.

Others puzzled, "why do they think I need saving? Can't they see how insulting that is?"

Some Christian friends offered up their position and spoke about their understanding and experiences with their faith.

Some debating was done. Ideas bounced back and forth between the friends who did not believe in Jesus and the ones who did. Neither side would yield, not wanting to be wrong, and truly not believing they were.

The discussion continued, and words became harsher, and assertions stronger. Defenses went up and hearts shut down. And the debaters no longer resembled friends.

And people left the conversation saddened, and heads hanging. Some cried.

No one made anyone see their position any clearer. No one yielded. No one wavered from their stances, and the only thing the conversation produced was tension and hostility among friends.

This happened among my friends today. And its happened in circles of friends before, and will again. And the reasons why are complicated, and perhaps are beyond my limited understanding.

I'm a baby Christian. I'm new and fresh. I'm seeking. I'm learning. And I'm excited. Maybe I'm over excited?

I wanted to know, how do we share our faith, as Christians with the world. So I looked it up. I found sources, I printed them out, I read scripture, I highlighted it, I formed an answer I thought summed up my findings quite nicely. It sounded good to me. It sounded right to me. It was well received by my fellow Christian friends, but not at all by my non believing friends. And from our differing opinions, conflict grew, and resentment reared its head. And friends said things that hurt. And it was my instinct to withdraw from the conversation, to protect myself from the backlash of stating my beliefs boldly. I wanted to separate myself from the entire debate and maintain the peace. It crossed my mind to say something like "okay, okay, I give! We're all right, no one's wrong, lets be friends." But that's not authentic. That's not honest. I don't believe it. Saying it would be a betrayal of my faith.

But I don't like to argue.

I don't like the conflict.

My stomach hurts over it.

I want peace.

I want calm.

But I also want truth. And I want to honor God. And sometimes, as it would seem from the result of today's debate, you can't appease your friends and please God at the same time.

Today I learned that my beliefs are not digestible to a lot of people. Today I learned that a lot of people want a world where everyone can be right, where there are multiple truths to make multiple groups happy. Today I learned that it can be very risky to step up and say that you don't think like that. Today I learned that to speak up for what you believe is right, and thus imply that a group of others are not right, is a sure fire way to be disliked.

2 Timothy 3:12 states that anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble; there's no getting around it.

Its easier to shut up.

Its easier to not take part in religious debates.

It's easier to adopt a "to each their own" mentality and keep your beliefs to yourself.

But life isn't always easy.

And standing up for your convictions is not easy.

I'm not going back to the debate with my friends. There's nothing more I can offer. I didn't join to convert anyone. I didn't join to force my beliefs on anyone. I joined to answer a question. Why do Christians spread the word? Sometimes unsolicited, and sometimes to unreceptive audiences. I believe in Christianity. I believe in evangelism. I believe its good to tell the world about Jesus. But I am not narrow minded.

I am not ignorant.

I am not judgmental.

I am not naive.

I am not a bully.

I am not arrogant.

I am not egocentric.

I am not unkind.

I am not pushy.

I am not abrasive.

I don't believe I'm better then anyone.

I don't look down on my friends of different beliefs.

I don't call names.

I don't set out to convert anyone. I don't jam my religion down unsuspecting throats.

And I don't like the implication that I do.

I don't like being lumped in a group with collective bad experiences with Christianity. I don't like generalizations about my character based on my beliefs.

Those who know me know this, I am not unapproachable.

I am kind.

I am warm.

I am guarded.

I am wounded.

I am growing.

I am learning.

I am excited.

I am healing.

I am becoming more bold, but I'm very sensitive.

I'm easily hurt.

I need a thicker skin.

But I am incomplete, a work in progress, like the rest of the world.

So a group of friends had a discussion today about believers and non believers and the interactions between the two. And its still going on. And no one is winning. But I've said my peace and I'm letting it go. Any further contributions would be arguing and not debating. And arguing wouldn't being any glory to God. It wouldn't build a case for Jesus, or evangelism. It would only add fuel to the fire, and would only further divide friends.

So, big step back.

It was a learning experience for sure. I learned a lot about how my non believing friends think and feel, and that's good to know. I learned about my personal limits. I learned about what I can and cannot talk about while representing my faith properly. I learned through my research what the Bible says about spreading the word, and that's very valuable.

I got my feelings hurt.

I had some perceptions changed.

The dynamics in some relationships shifted.

But God works all things for good in those who believe. So I'm looking for that good. And side stepping any further discord among my friends.

Katie

1 comments:

The Family Stone said...

Katie--I was so proud of you today, and wish I could have shared my views as eloquently. I agree that hurtful things were said, and my heart hurts for you. It is easier to take the road most taken, but we are called to take that less traveled. The narrow way--which despite the perceptions of some, has nothing to do with how many Christians there are--is the path we are called to travel. Not without pain, or confusion, or objection. But rest in Romans 8:28, my friend.

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