In our culture, someone’s always trying to convince you of something. No matter what you call yourself or buy for yourself, an antagonist will always arrive, armed for an argument, and ready to point out exactly why your choice is wrong and his is right.
Whether Christian or atheist, Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, blue collar or white collar, a fan of homeschool or public school, Pepsi or Coke, Ford or Chevy, Mac or PC, chocolate or vanilla, iPhone or Android, Yankees or Rangers, dogs or cats, people think their way is the best way. And of course they think that; it would be stupid not to, or why choose it in the first place? The problem is not a preference of decisions. The problem is the way people act on those decisions.
Most people–and I know this is a sweeping generalization, but hell, it’s everywhere–really, really want you to acknowledge how their side is better and should win everything. And I’m not talking a decent conversation. People want to argue or debate or insult their way to victory. And the horrible tragedy of it all is that doesn’t work.
Let’s use ice cream as an example, because it’s the safest. I do love some chocolate ice cream. Girl comes up and says, “Hey, you’re eating chocolate. You should switch to vanilla.”
I say, “No thanks, I’m happy with my chocolate.”
Girl says, “You’re a big fat loser. Chocolate makes you fatter, don’t you know that? You’re an idiot and a lameface. I’d rather be caught by the paparazzi, swimming naked in a pool full of vanilla ice cream than to be seen with chocolate anywhere near me.”
You know what I’d say? Well, I shouldn’t type it here, but you can trust it’s in at least one Mumford song. I might even smear my chocolate ice cream on her face before I walked away.
You think that sounds stupid, but oh, how true it is.
Whether it’s a matter of politics or personal preference, people are very rarely going to be swayed by those insulting, degrading, and argumentative comments. In the grand scheme of things, only one of those choices above really matters. And if arguing and insulting won’t sway a person on any of the lesser decisions, how can we possibly expect them to be swayed on the greatest decision? How can we possibly think condemning, judgmental comments will amazingly resonate with unbelievers, leading them to fall on their faces in repentance before Jesus?
Have I done that? Absolutely. I don’t exclude myself from the sweeping generalizations on my blog. But I do have a challenge, for all of us:
If you’re successfully living out whatever you think is worth living for, you won’t have to argue to convince someone your way is the best way. In fact, you probably won’t have to say a word.
There I am, eating chocolate ice cream. Girl walks by, eating some vanilla. She’s completely oblivious to anyone or anything around her, because all she can see is vanilla ice cream. She’s beaming and has some ice cream on her chin and in her hair but doesn’t care. She savors every bite. It’s obviously the most delicious food on the whole planet. And I want that kind of joy when I eat ice cream. You bet your britches next time I’m ordering vanilla. Chocolate may be good, but vanilla might be the one thing I’ve been missing my whole life.
As for Christ, he’s worth way more than ice cream. What that means is we have to seek first his kingdom. We have to “prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God” (Matthew 3:8).
I know I’ve been called to write and advise and lead people to a deeper understanding of Christ, and none of that is in contradiction with this. (It’s more my equivalent of, “Hey, you know this vanilla is incredible. You should try it sometime and see how you like it. Taste and see that it is good.”)
I do struggle with the argumentative aspects of faith, especially when confronted with false prophets. That’s one of my biggest stumbling blocks–understanding how to respond in a Christlike way to people spreading lies about him. When I figure that one out, I’ll let you know.
For now, what I know is if I really believe what I say I believe, I have to prove it. I have to live it out first and be prepared to explain it second.
Have you ever been burned by someone condemning your choices? On the other side, have you ever driven someone away from Christ by your actions, rather than drawing him in? Are there things in your life you would have tried or considered, had it not been for an overzealous follower?