Recently I was alone in a hotel room about to shut my computer down and slip into glorious and much-needed sleep for the night, when an old college friend started bombarding me through Facebook with attacks on Christianity. Apparently God didn’t want me going to sleep then after all, because I couldn’t just ignore my friend, and I suddenly found myself in an hour and a half discussion/debate on God, Christ, faith, and some random side issues not worth mentioning. My friend was really poking me, obviously finding my spiritual beliefs silly. Which, of course, they are to the world (1 Cor. 1:18).
He gave it all to me, from the Bible is full of errors, to the Trinity is illogical, to whether or not I eat shellfish—a highlight reel of nonbeliever clichés. Fortunately, I’m a fast typist, so I was able to send rapid-fire responses, as well as challenge him with some of my own questions (such as, if there is no higher power than man, who determines what is “right” and “wrong”?).
It was a blast. I love that kind of stuff; it energizes me and typically serves to strengthen my faith. I could’ve continued all night, but since I needed to be somewhat functional the next day at work, I eventually told my friend I really enjoyed the discussion but needed to bail. Then he said something that struck me: “Usually when I question people’s faith, they just get angry.”
I believe him. I’ve seen Christians get incensed at even the thought of their faith being questioned. If you happen to be someone whose temperature rises when someone disagrees—or even attacks—your spiritual beliefs, I have a simple question:
Seriously. If you have faith in Christ as your eternal savior, there’s nothing to get mad about. In fact you should feel sad for the person who’s hostile to the idea that there is a God who loves them so much he sent his only son to be crucified on their behalf, granting them everlasting life.
So what’s up with the anger, Christian? Of course, only you can answer that question, but as a totally unlicensed and non-credible psychologist, may I float a possibility?
Could it be that your anger is a mask for—or a natural reaction to—some level of insecurity in your own beliefs? Anger demonstrates that you care—or even fear—what the attacker of your faith thinks. But if you’re completely secure in your faith, why would you care if someone else isn’t? (Besides, of course, natural concern for their soul—a totally different issue.)
I get it. People are jerks. It doesn’t feel good to have your most precious beliefs attacked or ridiculed. But Jesus called this a blessing and that we should rejoice when it happens (Matt. 5:11-12). The Apostle Peter said to respond with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). They didn’t tell us to yell, attack back, or fear anything. For when you truly believe the Good News of salvation through Christ, what’s there to be angry about?
I also get those who do the questioning, because I’m a skeptic by nature. When I first surrendered my life to Christ at 22, I had no shortage of questions I couldn’t reconcile. My friends pushed me on them then as well. Like, “What about the person who’s never heard the name Jesus? Are they just doomed to Hell through no fault of their own?”
I didn’t have an answer at the time to that one—or some others (at least not beyond rattling off weak spiritual platitudes they’d heard before). So I brought all their questions and mine to God. I prayed, searched the Scriptures, read books, Googled my questions—anything that might give me some perspective.
Ultimately, God provided deeply satisfying answers to most of my questions. Some, though, he didn’t. But he did show me over time that (a) he reveals answers progressively to his children, in proportion to their ability to comprehend them, and (b) some answers he simply doesn’t want us to know now (possibly forever). And that’s okay. I don’t tell my kids everything (though I never lie to them); I don’t expect God to tell me everything. I now trust he knows what I need to know and when.
Faith in Christ is a never-ending process of discovery. I still continue to ask questions and always will. In fact, I believe it’s impossible to have a deep and robust faith without questioning everything, deconstructing your beliefs from each angle, until you have considered all possibilities. And if your faith—no matter how small—is genuine, God will surely provide the answers, or at least the comfort in not knowing a particular answer. With every honest question you ask, the more unshakable your faith will ultimately become. Just as it did for Job, Habakkuk, and many other biblical heroes.
Then filled with the knowledge of God and his grace, the anger will evaporate, and you will grow excited to share that grace with others when they question your faith, even if they’re yelling or laughing at you. You’ll also see that the best questions they can muster seem so small in comparison to our great God, and your faith will be even further strengthened. And when your attackers see that you have logical answers to their clichéd questions, you’ll be able to sometimes sit back and let them be the ones to get angry instead, exposing their insecurity.