I have never been much of a debater. The act of debating usually makes me feel sick to my stomach. I do not enjoy conflict.During debates I sit just there, listen to people talk about what they beleive about something, and totally forget why I disagree with them. It’s usually a very unsettling experience for me. I know that I do disagree with them, and that I have reasons that I could normally list off, but something about being put on the spot usually makes me blank. One morning last year while I was back in Aiken, a Jehovah’s Witness knocked on our door. The first thing he asked was what I thought the “Kingdom of God” was. I totally blanked and lost my thoughts. I’m pretty sure I told him “uhhh, all of us as God’s children together”. That is definitely not what I really think the Kingdom of God is. The point of that little story is just to show that I am a bad debater. I don’t see myself as a philosopher. I am not extremely well educated, I am still pretty young and lacking life experience.
All this being said, I was very surprised when I found myself debating my English professor. Not just debating him, but debating him about religion. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t extremely defensive, or loud, or rude about it. All I really did was ask questions that I hope pointed him to the truth. I beleive every person is created in God’s image and deserves honor, respect, and to be listened to. I wasn’t debating him because I felt offended, or like I had to prove my point to everyone. I didn’t feel ungrounded or unsettled personally. I was debating him because what he beleived was extremely depressing and lacking hope, and I wanted him to know the truth, life and restoration Jesus brings. I wanted to discuss with him about the things that really matter because I love and care for him. This sounds strange, but truly I do. I want him to have the joy, and peace the Lord has given me. I want him to experience the love of Christ. Also, I want everyone else in that class share in that same love as well. College is the time when many people develop their beleifs. The idea of anyone in that class room taking every thing he said for truth or as unarguable was awful to me.
He had half of the truth. He seemed to know the human nature of man. If you were to look at a human being at his very core, without any religion, ethnicity, family, job, or other “social constructs” to define him, you would find a power-hungry, manipulative being who is striving to serve his own self and survive. He said that if ten people who were not shaped by society, ten people in their natural state, were thrown on an island by themselves, they would all murder each other. The reason we don’t all murder each other now, is because we have made alliances and with others so that we don’t have to worry about them killing us. We form groups. We are all still striving for power and for our own selves. We have our families, societies and countries we are part of for our own protection and survival. We all put ourselves first. Love is just liking what someone can do for you, or how they make you feel. We all exist and are free to do what we like, but we are responsible for our actions and how society reacts to them. “There is no Jesus Christ to save you from your sins”.
Most other students in the classroom did not react very well to the things he said. They found what he said morbid, and depressing. Though I certainly don’t agree with everything he said today, I really do think he has a good grasp on the human nature of man, depressing as it may be.
“There is no one righteous, not even one; There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” Romans 3:10
What has not been revealed to my English professor though, is the redemption, restoration and new life Christ brings. We were not created to be sinful. We were created for glorifying God, for loving one another, for community,for living selflessly. If what he says is true, how do you explain the guilt people feel when they murder, lie, and cheat? How do you explain the selfless love of so many parents for their children? How do you explain the self-sacrificing of those that give their money in secret, and not to be seen? How do you explain that desire in so many people to be loved, known, and accepted by others? How else can my own new life be explained? I was once completely self-centered, depressed, and unsatisfied with life. Christ has given me new life, and worth, and love. He has adopted me and given me the love that everyone so longs for. He has redeemed me and is transforming me daily to be the person He has called me to be. Christianity is not a bunch of hypocritical people claiming to be perfect, it is a community of weak individuals whose only hope in this broken world is dependence on the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ.
My class was so appalled at my teacher’s words because the world he described was detestable to them. It was detestable to them, because that is not how the world was created to be.
This world may be dark, sinful, and fallen, but there is hope! There is light, there is redemption, and there is a savior. I know it, because He has saved me. I do not know it because I am smarter than others. There are many who are way smarter, and know much more of the world than I. I know it because I have experienced it. I did not experience it because I deserved it. I did not discover the truth, the truth was revealed to me.
My hope and my prayer is that God will enable me to point to the gospel in that class. May I be humble, loving, respectful, and gracious. May I be the very contradiction of the depressing world he beleives in. May he, and others, turn to God as the explanation for the existance of light in this world. May he receive worth and purpose from Christ.
There is nothing that grabs my heart and attention than a lost person who is desperately seeking for the truth. He seems like such a person to me.
“If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 4:11