They Make Me So Mad!

You know those people who hate the idea of God, mock Christianity, and aren't even courteous enough to engage in an a civil argument about things that really matter? You know how they throw out an objection to religion, and then when you answer it they just move to another one? You know how they sometimes resort to slurs and jabs and insults, and then scream if we lapse into what they consider an unfair generalization? Let me ask you: how does that make you feel?

And what about when you can't get away from them because they work with you or are part of your family? What are we who love Jesus supposed to do with those people who just - wait for it! - make us so mad we want to rant and roar and never deal with them again? What are we to do? Do we keep engaging them with the latest arguments from Apologetics class? Or do we just give up and clam up? Or do we go out of our way to avoid them?

Knowing there are no simple answers to situations like these because they come in myriad different shapes and sizes, I still offer the following as a place to start:

1. Consider the situation theologically. Realize that, unless the Spirit of God works through the Gospel to soften hard hearts and open blind eyes, no one will come to understand the grace of God in salvation. Apart from the work of the Spirit there can be no true understanding of sin, nor any sincere conviction and repentance, nor any saving faith in Jesus Christ. Our job is just to sow the seed, but God is the only One who can make it take root and bring forth fruit.

2. Consider the situation practically. Understand that arguments won't work until someone is sincerely seeking the truth. Those who just want to argue, or mock, or taunt will never suddenly drop their position in favor of yours. They aren't looking for truth, and as soon as you counter one error, and explain away one objection, they will bring out ten more. 

3. Consider the situation personally. Keep it personal. Share your life with them, not just your arguments. Show them how your life works, how trusting in Christ, and growing in the Word helps you navigate through the circumstances and adversity of this broken world. Share honestly about your greatest joys as well as your hard times, and how you can deal with suffering, as well as with the other challenges life brings. Live your life with a joy that can only be explained by the presence of the Spirit, and can't be displayed without him. In other words, show the difficult people that your life is difficult too, but that it actually works, that you can explain reality, and more to the point, deal with whatever it hands you. Then, when they come to you in private, without jokes or taunts, and ask how in the world you manage to make life work, explain that you've set your hope and security on something this world can't erode or corrupt. Then winsomely tell them your story, show them the reasonableness of faith in Jesus, and then invite them to turn from their sin and entrust their lives to the God who made them.

4. Consider the situation lovingly. We are called to love the Lord, to love the brethren, to love our neighbors, and to love our enemies. Seems that includes everyone, even those that make us so mad. Just remind yourself often that you may be their only hope of heaven. You may be in their life, like Esther, "for such a time as this." Don't rise to their bait. Don't worry about their taunts or their ever-present attitude of superiority. Don't worry about it! You've got Jesus, and they need him. That's really all that matters. We can't let the frustrating and obnoxious behavior of sinners keep us from being the aroma of Christ to them. It must be our hope and prayer that the Spirit will use our witness and winsomeness to draw them savingly to Jesus. 

Remember, it may take a long time, and then again, it may never happen. That can't be our concern. We were once enemies of God, worthy to be shunned and banished forever. But he loved us, and now he is using us as avenues of his love for others ... even those who make us so mad!