Arguing for God
He is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him. Luke 20:38
I grew up in an evangelical church, which places a heavy emphasis on witnessing. So, on a mountain hike years ago, I met another trekker with whom I felt compelled to share my faith. I think I started out explaining that I believed in heaven and hell and that if he didn’t believe, his eternal soul was damned. He didn’t see things as I did and so, I basically picked a fight on the existence of God and hell. I ruined a fantastic hike for both of us.
As a Christian, I’ve often seen myself as God’s salesman, tasked with convincing others of his truth. This isn’t the model that Christ provided though. Jesus went to those in obvious need, loving them, thereby earning the right to share his message of repentance and transformation.
When met with opposition, he didn’t get sucked into pointless arguments. In today’s passage, the Sadducees – who didn’t believe in the resurrection – tried to trap Jesus with a ridiculous scenario of the afterlife. Jesus didn’t tell them they were going to hell. He simply said that, in God, there is life and that all those who live for him, may know this life. Jesus didn’t fight or beg the Sadducees to follow him.
The reason my attempt to share my faith on that mountain was so inept, was because I set out to debate. I didn’t have much of a story of love and transformation to tell because up to that point, I hadn’t allowed God to do much for me. I’d lived for myself, making an occasional attempt to argue someone into heaven.
I don’t do it perfectly, but now, sharing my faith has become more natural, as I’m daily being transformed myself. I don’t generally find myself trying to convince others they need saving, because there are plenty of people out there who know they need help. I don’t pick fights with random hikers. I go to jail and treatment, where I meet those who know their need. God doesn’t ask me to argue and debate for him. He asks me to be a living example of his transforming grace.
God is the God of the living. If we know this life, others will see it, and some will want it. With them, we must share the love, faith and recovery that God has shown us.