I am sitting in the Library coffeehouse in Meridian, trying to plug away at an admissions essay that has me, frankly, tied up in knots. Yet it seems like I might be in the right place to do my wrestling, judging by the number of people around me with Bibles out, it seems that I have stumbled upon Meridian’s (un)official Christian coffeehouse. Neat. I am faced with a question that covers at least six different topics, and I could easily reach the maximum word allowance on at least four of them.
Sometimes it is so hard to be succinct.
One of the topics I am attempting to be articulate over is the area of my calling. I am currently in the position of trying to navigate between two areas of life where it seems very evident I have been equipped to serve. On one hand, I have been exploring my giftedness in the realm of teaching bible study. I’ve had the privilege in the last couple of years to teach on several occasions, and to even co-lead a study with another woman (who happens to be a stunning example of Godly womanhood) named Becky.
On the other hand, I have been passionate for some time about the arts, and the role and calling of Christian artists in relation to the seeking world; especially toward fellow artists who may have been burnt by “religious people” in the past. There is a prominent contingency within the arts world (at least as far as I’ve encountered) of artists who have encountered someone claiming to be Christian, yet whodid not seem to embody any Christlike characteristics. Quite often, the encounter left them feeling more judged, abandoned and disenfranchised by the god who supposedly created and loves them. I’ve spoken to many artists who have had an encounter of this sort, and have found that one of the recurring character traits of those who did so much damage is their steadfast resolve to unbendingly stand their ground. They’ve engaged in conversations that quickly turned to debate, and were persistent past the point usfulness.
If truth is actually truth, it will remain truth whether we are stern or gentle about it. The resulting difference is the effect of our words and behavior. In fact, I believe that when we communicate with calm confidence we are far more convincing. Quite frankly, a gospel message that requires us to be rigid jerks in order to make our point isn’t much of a gospel. The Jesus I know is firm and confident, but also filled with love and grace. Jesus isn’t a jerk, so there is no need for us to be, either. Yet so many engage the non-believing world in a manner that is so defensive it’s offensive. (I’m not talking about the offensive nature of the Gospel—the truth that pricks against our flesh and offends us simply because it exposes us for what we are. I’m talking about our attempts to proselytize that only alienate those we are trying to endear.) Many many more have been argued away from the Kingdom than argued toward it. Think about it.
So, this begs a question. Do we know the difference between standing our ground with firm conviction in what we know to be Truth, and argumentative behavior that is off-putting? When we are sharing our faith with others, are we standing our ground, stamping our foot, or digging a hole and throwing them in?