Posted by: sailingspirit | January 2, 2013

Unbelief pt 3: Cool or Fool?

In the previous two posts I wrote about unbelief, what it actually is and how to identify it in your faith.  The best way to get it out is to determine what form it’s in, and then add weight to the scale, so to speak, according to that type.  For example, if the unbelief is in the form of natural/physical, meaning insufficient evidence, then do things that will add evidence.  If it’s ignorance, add more knowledge on the subject.  Simple as that.

Now, how to deal with others’ unbelief?  In our science-idolatrous society today and perhaps many others as well, coupled with the media age expanding journalism exponentially, there is tremendous social pressure to approach topics and decision-making in a way that will be perceived as “fair and balanced.”  Any lack of evidence that you’ve done so will often return you the derisive label “narrow minded” or “closed minded” or “ignorant conservative.”  (Perhaps you’ve even had these thoughts about others.)

But stop for a moment and think about what that situation really is: peer pressure, the same as the 3rd grade playground.  Is the pressure on you to make the right decision, or merely to use a certain method regardless of the outcome?  Is it actually true that using the “right” method will produce the right answer?  Before you yield to such pressures from other people, be sure to identify their priority and motive.  Often times, people seeking the wrong priorities are operating on the motive to set a trap for you so as to reinforce their own self-justified self-worship.  Beware of those!  To get at the bottom of it, I recommend asking clarifying questions of them, keeping them talking, until you have been able to identify the thread underneath it all.  There’s almost always an answer they secretly want you to say, which you can get tipped off to by the kind of evidence, proof, or sources they require of you.  If they resist questioning so strongly as to retaliate by defaming your character, then you know for sure they’re after the spotlight, not enlightenment.

Just like when you were a kid, it helps to rehearse your responses before you get cornered.  What is your decision-making rubric?  Said another way, whose voice carries the most credibility with you, and why?  If you’re not yet convinced why you believe like you do, you have slim chance of convincing anyone else.  Button it up now and you’ll be much cooler in the moment.  One great way to start is to practice your answers to the most common questions.  An online search is a quick and great way to get answers to some common challenges to the Christian faith.  I once got cornered on the “3 days/3 nights” question, but the process of having to go look it up so as to not get embarrassed again taught me quite a lot and strengthened my appreciation for God even more.

Here’s a few suggestions for quick comebacks when you want to defend your faith against belief bullies:

The fair-and-balanced science/journalism/politics answer:

“I considered other views, but they all fell short.  This was the only one that was superior.”

The playground bully answer:

“God is smarter than you/him/her/them so I go with what God says.”

The democratic/market economy/human rights/or just plain overwhelmed by choices answer:

“I go with what works, and this is the only one that actually gets consistent results.”

The sarcastic/humorous answer:

“Uh, well, I’m pretty sure guys who are DEAD can’t really help me now so that pretty much leaves Jesus, now doesn’t it?”

And of course, if it gets really uncomfortable, you can just fall back on your right to freely choose and tell them you don’t have to justify anything to them.  You chose it because you liked it best, period.  You can even walk away, assured that God will handle His own reputation just fine.

Hope that helps!  I’d be interested to hear what kind of results you get from these responses.

The Bully: A Discussion and Activity Story

For the next post in this series, see Finding Reality In A Fun House

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