But for the past week and a half, I've been engaged with with two agnostics (one a friend through sports broadcasting), two atheist, a Muslim, two close friends who rest their hats on the predestination rack, four young people from church struggling with issues of faith and all the while teaching a Sunday School class on apologetics.
You know what they say about too much of a good thing...
I'm going to exclude my two Calvinist friends because our dialogue has been ongoing for awhile. I also consider both crucial pieces God has used in the puzzle of my life (you're just not corner pieces...lol ). I love my friends...we just happen to read differently.
2 Timothy 2:24-26 (New King James Version)
24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
Paul gave some valuable counsel to Timothy. He would have paid a fortune in psychologist fees today for the stuff Paul laid on him. And we still continue to profit from those words...thank God!
Here's another verse I get beat up with often. Believe it or not, my ongoing correspondence with the Muslim has been very rewarding. We connected through a work associate in Turkey who knew my colors. It just so happens I've read and studied the Koran, and I think my working knowledge has been a definite benefit in explaining why we don't worship the same God.
The young people who are going through a bit of a challenge were hit with another blow as a young man from our church was killed in a tragic accident last week. He was 28, married with a one year old daughter. He comes from a family tremendously strong in their faith in God. Though his death was truly tragic...his lasting testimony will glorify God for many years to come and gave us great talking points to work through.
I too easily relate to the agnostic because of my own journey. Having a common point of reference and empathy for the ongoing search to fill the 'soul hole', my confidence is lifted in providing good discussions. I believe I'm most patient when discussing God with folks from this group.
Now here comes my struggle...the atheist. Wow is it hard to be gentle here Father. I've often remarked, rather offhandedly, that atheism is a mental illness, and maybe that's just not fair. It's definitely not Christ-like. I just get so frustrated trying to convince someone that belief in God takes no more faith than belief there is no supreme being at all. Actually, I'm convinced it takes far more faith to believe the latter...with the gravest of consequences.
I have to keep reminding myself God gave us the ability to choose to believe or not to believe, and I'm not going to change the decision not to believe in some. With apologies to my Calvinist friends of course...