Paul and I were together several times the past month. I discovered he loves billiards so I asked if I could join him when he went out at night to the local pool hall. I am a weak pool player but he is both a great teacher and a patient competitor. While conversing, Paul revealed that he is an agnostic. One evening the topic of death came up and I mentioned the emptiness of dying only to end up as worm food. He countered that life was still valuable if we contributed to the betterment of others—even if they too had nothing more than the grave to anticipate. As our discussion deepened, I asked him if would not be much better to contribute to people’s lives and then have eternal life with God to enjoy. He agreed and at that point, I felt led not to force the conversation further with my fellow officer.
John 7:12—And there was a lot of discussion about Him among the crowds. Some were saying, “He’s a good man.” Others were saying, “No, on the contrary, He’s deceiving the people.”
Hypocrisy, rigidity, insecurity (viewed as controlling), and a failure to listen are four ingredients that hasten the emergence of skepticism. An agnostic prefers to camp on the ground of uncertainty. Since most of us dislike uncertainty, we try to force the doubter to leave what we see as marsh to enter our solid encampment. If we are not careful, our persistent insistence that our ground is better while their soil is wrong, serves only to alienate them. There are a great number of people who do not appreciate being told where and how they should camp.
Truly only God can reach an agnostic since only He can reveal Himself. Since sin blinds men to truth and skepticism is a blind manifestation, our prayer should be for God’s mercy to overcome man’s hardness. If I understand Scripture correctly, my first responsibility is to love Paul and pray for his salvation. By loving him, I value who he is as a God-created man, treat him with dignity, and make every effort to model obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit and to what Scripture commands. Experientially, I find with agnostics that if they see I am genuine, they open up with questions and trust that I will dialogue honestly not trying to force my views down their throats. Humility is a great damper to skepticism.
God does not call us to win arguments. He calls us to follow Jesus. Truth does not rely on force of persuasion it stands on its own authenticity. This is why the fruit of truth is freedom. Therefore, those who disagree and resist what we espouse, should not intimidate us or increase our vocal volume but rather compel us to pray that the Lord of Light would shine His truth upon their darkness of doubt. In order to know how to pray for Paul, I must make the time to know Paul. How can I hope to see him sing praises in the mansion if I am not first willing to shoot pool with him in the marsh!
Skepticism is produced by telling people what to believe. We are in danger of putting the cart before the horse and saying a person must believe certain things before he can be a Christian; his beliefs are the effect of his being a Christian, not the cause of it.—Oswald Chambers in Approved Unto God
©2010 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)