By Maryann Spikes. This is written to those of you who consider yourselves Christians but think you don’t need answers to tough questions because you don’t ask them and nobody asks them of you. I am thinking a lot about this and I’d love to hear if you think I am fully understanding where you are at. I want to know why no one is asking you questions, and here are my guesses:
If no one is asking you tough questions about what you believe, maybe it is because you aren’t telling many people that they are loved by God unconditionally*? There are a number of reasons people keep the gospel to themselves. Can you find yourself in the list below?
- Unaware of your duty. You don’t know that you are unconditionally accepted by God, and you don’t know that the natural result of enjoying that acceptance is wanting to share it with others–and that we are commanded not to keep it to ourselves**. If this is you, find out more about God’s unchanging love for you and, once your cup is running over with it, share it around. There will be questions!
- Lack of time. Maybe you would share grace with others if you weren’t so busy scraping by, working 16 hour days all by yourself? That seems pretty rare, though…?
- Introverted. You are overwhelmed by all the interpersonal signals that can misfire when answering tough questions.
- Politically correct. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, you just feel that talking about Jesus’ unconditional acceptance as “THE way” is rude, culturally insensitive, and intolerant of other belief systems.
- Fear. You want to avoid questions you can’t answer and the possible anger (intolerance) of those who ask them. Maybe there is also the buried fear that if you look too much into the answers you will lose faith?
On that last note…you may no longer be able to avoid these questions by keeping grace to yourself. Atheists are starting to become more “evangelical.” If you’ve attended any college classes lately, you know that atheists are very open about their atheism and some of them have no problem mocking Christians. Some atheist professors are teaching students that faith and science don’t mix, and most of the time students who were never taught otherwise just take the professor’s word for it. Have you heard of Dr. Peter Boghossian’s “Manual for Creating Atheists” and upcoming TV show, “The Reason Whisperer,” where he goes into churches and talks people out of their faith through what he calls “interventions”?
How would you respond if Dr. Boghossian approached you at church with questions to put on his TV show? What if you had the awareness that you are unconditionally accepted and wanted to share that with him?
What if you were prepared with reasoned answers because you take time to research them? What if, fortified with acceptance and answers, you have no reason to be afraid, and every reason to hope he doesn’t conveniently cut your scene from his TV show? Granted, you may prefer not to throw your pearls before swine, but if you have all the answers, none of his questions will shake you.
More likely and more practical: What if God, rather than calling you to be a missionary in a foreign land, is calling you to dig a tunnel of answers to get those around you out from under the mountain of their questions, into a place where they can more seriously consider his unconditional acceptance? Know this: Every Christian is called–commanded**–to share God’s grace with the world. Whatever is holding us back from doing that, we need to remove that obstacle. The way to remove the obstacle of fearing questions is to be prepared with answers. There are so many books and websites focused on helping those who are looking for answers; just type “Christian apologetics” into the Google.com search engine.
Or maybe you talk about Jesus plenty, but no one is asking you questions because they know your usual response is not one of unconditional acceptance and/or answers to their questions, but instead your answers make them feel stupid or you give them a slogan like one of these:
Question: Do faith and reason conflict?
Answer: Faith takes over where reason leaves off.
Question: Is Christianity the only true religion?
Answer: You just need Jesus.
Question: Is the Bible myth?
Answer: God said it, I believe it, that settles it.
Maybe you even say things like, “Your questions come from a place of rebellion and sin,” “You overthink things,” or “The mark of true faith is to never doubt or ask questions.” Did you grow up with those ideas?
Do such overpowering thoughts shame you into burying your own questions as “bad” whenever they surface? If you had never heard those shaming slogans but instead were given actual answers to your questions, how do you think you would respond to questions today? What if I told you (Matrix meme) that such questions draw us to find out more about God and be in a constant state of discovery of him? Will you stop the cycle of shaming away honest questions with slogans? Will you start fresh with obeying the command to draw people closer to God through unconditional acceptance, which includes reasoned answers to their questions?
Or am I missing something?
*Unconditional acceptance: That’s the Gospel (“good news”) in a nutshell, demonstrated by Jesus when he switched perspectives with us on the cross, dying to show he loves us despite all the relational death we cause, and rising from the dead to authenticate that message that is now our burden to communicate: