Your Guide To What Skeptics Want From Christians
My brother may hate me for bringing this up but as someone who recently converted from super artsy graphic designer a-la Shephard Fairey to a “blogger” (how derivative); you must know (and fear) that everyone around me will make it into my writing. Specially skeptics who are close to me.
I was recently in the car with my devastatingly handsome, God-skeptical brother, listening to some Andy Mineo, as is my usual life. We talked what we always did, Pinky and the Brain type conversations mostly heard in a Zach Braff movie. Life, love and the pursuit of happiness are usual themes. However as we came to a natural selah in our conversation the
“…so the grace that I talk about on all my records,
I need it for myself, cause really I’m just a mess,
finding rest from the pressures of perfection,
as I stand up on this platform they expectin,
me to be a man without flaws, that’s false,
I am just another rapper that’s called to point ya’ll to the cross,
and that’s exactly where I’m headed,
I’m just another beggar pointin ya’ll to where the bread is,
I’m not a superhuman
I am just a man…
He looks over at me and with slight surprise he says, “He’s good. Who is this?” After telling him, he replies. “You see, this I don’t mind. Like, this subject matter.” I agreed and left it at that of course. I told him Andy was simply being real. Meaning he was simply articulating a truth of the gospel. But I wasn’t about to explain penal substitutionary atonement to him just because he liked a rap song.
I wondered, what is it that set this song apart, and what is it about the lyrics that opened up the way for a skeptic to enjoy this music, given the great production value. I realized it wasn’t a song, it wasn’t lyrics, it was authenticity. It was a lack of an invasive mentality. The song talked about Andy’s own struggles and shortcomings and how he could only overcome them through God, yet people expected him to be some sort of hero when he was just a performer. Much like my brother, many skeptics want a full picture of the gospel, not just the pretty part, they want us as Christians to admit we don’t have the answers but are looking to God to get them. So I compiled a list of what skeptics want from us.
Im Not a Superhuman
I can immediately hear the hyper-spirituals “but Jesus lives in me so I am super human!” I would like to tell you two things. First of all: put some shoes on, and second of all, to tell someone who is questioning “God” about Jesus is pointless. We first have to start by showing them there is God. How?
” Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. -John 14: 11-16
In a nutshell, we convince people that God exists not by theologically explaining and debating them in an intellectual wrestling match but by love. The best part however, is that the love isn’t only one directional or two directional. It is a love that extends from me to the skeptic, from me to God, and heres the kicker…from me to the rest of the church. If a skeptic can look at the church and be floored by how loving it is, there is no explanation but God. Explaining to them that Jesus is in them right off the bat is a little awkward in comparison.
A Man Without Flaws, That’s False.
Don’t mistake flawlessness for holiness. But skeptics are always looking for things to discredit your walk. Mostly so they can justify not having to walk it themselves. They think they know for the most part what this Christianity is all about so they will confront you about your mistakes. I make sure to let my brother see my flaws. I proverbially rip my wounds open in front of him, causing him to see a fully dimensional person. This leaves no room for judgement. Where at first they may call you a hypocrite for failing, they will eventually have to call you persistent, motivated, unshakable, immovable in your faith and inseparable from God. They see that no matter what happens you keep going back to Him and that speaks volumes more than hiding your flaws until the moment one sin creeps out and all the skeptics blast you for being a liar and a hypocrite. A man without flaws doesn’t exist, but a holy man certainly does. There is a huge difference and that difference is repentance and faith in Jesus.
I’m A Beggar Pointin’ Ya’ll to Where the Bread is.
Skeptics don’t hear this perspective enough I think. It shocks me how thrilled they are to hear this every time I tell them. It’s not about me! Just because I’m a Christian, it does not make me better than you, Just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean your opinion is invalid, or your emotions don’t matter. Because we have been given the responsibility to be Christlike, we should be listening twice as much as talking. Hearing out peoples position on life, love, God, and the ‘universe’. Jesus’ first evangelistic mission when he returned in his resurrected body he walked for seven miles with Cleopus without speaking! Seven miles! Imagine walking with Jesus, the God of the universe, not knowing its him, and just babbling away about how he just died? What a goof! But that’s what we miss sometimes and skeptics know this, we overpreach, overspeak, overstand our ground and ruin the moment on a consistent basis. Jesus was the effortless cool.
What’s my point? Let them talk! Understand their position before we try to fix them, or convert them, or save them. Cuz it ain’t happenin’ . We are called to steer people into the right direction with the wisdom and prayer the holy spirit has given us. It is up to God to bring the increase in their lives. We can’t force people to love God. We can only point people to where the bread (of life) is.
Forgettin There’s Beauty Inside the Mess
God found us in our deepest and darkest places and he will reach anyone in his own timing as well. There is a beauty in the mess of being a skeptic that they themselves do not understand. As believers we have to show grace and not retaliate. 1 Peter 2:12 says Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Being honorable doesn’t always mean being clean and tidy. Sometimes it means showing the mess your in and being authentic about what you’re going through. This way when they try to say that you are a hypocrite they can never claim that you hid anything. There is a beauty to your mess, and a beauty to the mess of a skeptic.
If You’re Reading This (and skeptical) It’s (not) Too Late…
If you are skeptical about God I’m sure you have your reasons. You can read all of the science books you want and investigate all of the one sided evidence you’d like to. I can attest to a few things personally. In the grand scheme of things I am confident in what the meaning of my life is, why I wake up each morning, and what will happen when it’s over. I no longer feel like I wander through this world like a leaf in the wind with no existential need to anchor myself to love. I am secure in myself worth and I have no void in my heart created by the hurt of a person. These are things only God can offer in fullness. Intrinsic worth can only be given when there is an origin of worth. Science can provide answers to formulas and math to numbers but the God who encompasses all those things can provide all that and can explain the reason you feel what you do in the depths of your soul. And for that, I can offer you a small plea to put your skepticism aside and prior understandings of gods aside and take a closer look at the person of Jesus.