1/14/16 Adrian about 25
“That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.” Everyone has a story. Everyone has a unique combination of background and beliefs that makes up the story of their life. That’s what makes initiating gospel conversations so interesting for me. But everyone also has a storyline – a narrative or a lens through which we see the world, and this is what can make gospel conversations frustrating.
We reached out to Adrian, a businessman working on his computer at a coffeeshop. He invited us to sit down and told how he has journeyed from being a hardened atheist to his present beliefs as a skeptical agnostic. His basic storyline is “I’m a good person without God or religion, but if your religion is what makes you a good person, then more power to you!” He repeated this basic narrative many times during our half-hour conversation. It was frustrating because it became a sort of mantra that negated any evidence or reasoning we could offer that conflicted with his world view. We were able to share the Gospel, but his response was always the same.
Of course, I realize that I can’t change anyone’s basic narrative or world view by my own clever reasoning. It’s a work of the Holy Spirit. It is to be born again. We are called to be a prophetic voice in the world, but not to be the One who alone can change hearts. So I shouldn’t be frustrated, but what does make a conversation like this difficult is hearing opinions so contrary to my own, especially when I believe my own are based on God’s word and not just my own imagination or wishful thinking.
Social media like Facebook doesn’t help. What makes social media so attractive is that it gathers like-minded people into mutual support clubs. We cheer on what agrees with our own like-minded narratives and ignore the rest. We aren’t learning how to answer the hard questions, or how to ask them. But in the world, on the street, face to face, engaged in sharing deep concepts like the Gospel, we can’t pick and choose which storylines we will listen to and which we will ignore. It can be uncomfortable, disconcerting even, to hear strong arguments against our own beliefs. But in the long run it makes our faith stronger and our relationship with God deeper. It is far better than putting our head in the sand and ignoring opposing voices.
And who knows? Adrian was willing to talk and to listen. He has already journeyed from atheism to agnosticism. He now claims to be open to the possibility that God exists, though he highly doubts it. It may not be too late for him. He says he has a story and he’s sticking to it, but his journey isn’t over yet…