Thursday, July 22, 2010
How To Reach Those That Do Not Want To Be Reached
Newsweek religion editor Lisa Miller has two big articles in this week's issue. "The Bad Shepherd" is another piece trashing Pope Benedict over the sex-abuse charges emerging in Europe. But Miller even trashed Jesus Christ as a "typically cranky" religious figure. This came in an excerpt from Miller's new book on Heaven, as she explained how implausible the religious concept of resurrection is:Most of this stuff is just not worth arguing with - it is post conclusion argument. Someone has made up their mind to disagree and nw they are coming up with excuses in the form of argument rather than examining the information and trying to draw a conclusion. In my opinion that is the essence of most apologetics - people justifying a stance rather than trying to reach a decision.
Resurrection presented credibility problems from the outset. Who, the Sadducees taunted Jesus, does the man who married seven wives in succession reside with in heaven? The subtext of their teasing is obvious: if the resurrection is true, as Jesus promised, then in heaven you must have your wife, and all the things that go along with wives: sex, arguments, dinner. Jesus responds in a typically cranky way: "You just don't get it," he says (my paraphrase). "You are wrong," he said in Matthew's Gospel, "because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God."
How do you reach such a person?
Well, there are many pat phrases like, "Love them into the Kingdom," "The Holy Spirit will speak to their heart," "Prayer." However, I have learned from painful experience that some people simply will not be reached. They will not allow themselves to be touched by "the other," whether that is another person or something in the spiritual realms, enough for there to be actual impact. Apologetics may be their defense mechanism, or emotional isolation, or simple aggression does the trick, but whatever it is they will not allow themselves to be touched.
I think that in such situations, God has a lesson for us. It is quite humbling you know - an unsolvable riddle, the sensation of interacting with a wall. To be completely useless and ineffectual is truly humiliating. And I think that is the lesson, the hardest lesson of all.
We need to let God worry about them and take our own lessons.