By Beth Groh
Especially when it means you may drive a wedge in a friendship.
That’s the uncomfortable position I found myself in when a dear friend shared one of her favorite instructional CD sets with me.
I could just tell by the cover…not a Christian message coming my way.
Within seconds, I knew that I was right. Lots of talk about finding spirituality from within. God? He can be found if you’re one of the dedicated few who seek him in a spiritual quest. (In other words, we use our minds to seek God—our works—not the true message of His bridge to us through His precious Son—His grace. (Eph. 2:8-9)
Click. That was enough.
Enough to know I was not comfortable listening to the rest.
And enough to know I was in a pickle.
I knew the first question I was going to hear from my friend, “Well, what did you think?”
Hmmm… fudge it? Change the subject? Make some polite excuse for not listening to it all? At minimum, think of a quick reason why I didn’t need to borrow set number two.
“OK, God,” I prayed. “Give me the right words so I don’t betray You, or botch a chance to witness Your Truth to my friend.”
Now, before I tell you how that turned out…let me tell you what I decided to do with this dilemma. I made it into a teaching tool for reinforcing a biblical worldview with our children.
How is this a “worldview” issue?
Well consider this—a secular humanist worldview says to avoid “intolerance” at all costs. It would be “judgmental” for me to say my beliefs were right and hers, or at least those reflected on the CDs, were wrong.
A biblical worldview simply says “truth is truth,” and must be proclaimed no matter what the cost. See Romans 1:16 for the “I am not ashamed…” instructions.
How do you take this “battle of worldviews” to your children? You start by asking questions.
My best opportunity came with our youngest son, Ryan, who is eleven. I laid out the scenario and asked what he would do.
“I guess saying you were too busy wouldn’t be right,” he said … which, of course, was a thought that crossed his chicken-mom’s mind, too.
He then suggested, “Why don’t you tell her that the CD was against your beliefs?”
Great, I thought, Ryan’s getting close. But I wanted him to see that the dilemma was even deeper.
“Ryan, if I tell her that it’s against my beliefs, then we have a battle over opinions,” I said. “It’s like saying, ‘My way of thinking is better than your way of thinking.’ Is that really the case here?”
Oh… we both needed to think this through more carefully.
Truth is not a “belief”—it just “is.” I didn’t want to start a battle over ideas with my friend—not just because it might cause hard feelings—but rather because it diminishes the power of the Gospel message when it gets reduced to a give-and-take argument of “my beliefs are better than your beliefs.”
Ryan said he had not thought of it that way before. Frankly, I hadn’t either. We both learned that words matter.
So… let’s go back to the scene with the return of the CD’s and the inevitable, “Well, what did you think?”
With a deep breath and a prayer, I said something to this effect: “I appreciate you sharing them with me and I did listen to some, but not all, of the message. I stopped when I sensed that God’s truth was not reflected. ‘Closeness’ to God doesn’t come from our efforts—no matter how sincere—but through Jesus.”
Whew… it wasn’t as hard as I thought. I shared the truth with my friend. I had a great talk with our son. I learned to avoid the trap of battling over “beliefs,” versus proclaiming truth.
Hey, maybe those CDs were instructional after all!
P.S. So how did my friend take it? Well, she seemed to feel a little awkward too, and said something to the effect that I may have missed out on some of the speaker's other points. It's too bad. No big 'aha' moment this time with my friend—but yet another seed planted!