I stood smiling although I truly had no desire to smile. The words coming from the other person felt too much like an attack. (Sometimes being a highly sensitive person has it pitfalls.) I have had this conversation in my head many times, though. I have known the conversation would eventually come up with someone so I prepared myself. I knew what my answer would be, and I knew I would only share my own story and reasons, never going on the attack.
As soon as I could get a word in edge wise, I simply shared my story and why I made the choice I did. I never defended my choice. I didn’t need to.
In the beginning I wasn’t sure where this person was going with this conversation, but whatever direction he was taking, he was going about it the wrong way. Instead of simply inviting me to something, he assumed I would decline due to a difference in choice on something. Having never met me, he immediately went on the defensive about his own choice arguing that “we should all work together.” I don’t disagree with him on that matter.
The entire experience caused me to think about the difference in having a posture of defensiveness as opposed to being prepared with an answer. Especially with matters of faith.Too many times I believe we are quick to become defensive. Too quick.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. – 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
There are translations that use the word defend in place of ‘give an answer.’ Translation from the original can get tricky some times, and I am certainly not a theologian.
But I wonder if too often people forget the part that says “for the hope that you have.”
I wonder if we too often mistake ‘defend’ or ‘have an answer for’ with arguing.
God is our Magen, our shield. He is our Metsuda, our fortress. He is our Migdal-Oz, our strong tower.
He defends us. We are to defend, to have an answer, for the hope we find in Him.
Do we mistake defending the hope we have in Christ for arguing with people, for being God’s defense attorney, even with other Christians, about our differences? Does arguing show gentleness and respect? I have been guilty of this, and I’m sure there will be moments I will be again.
Maybe age and gaining some wisdom along the way gives us perspective, though. I hope to remember that He only needs me to have an answer for the hope I find in Him; to remember He is Metsuda, Magen, Migdal-Oz. Having an answer for the hope I have through my story, in gentleness and respect, and without a defensive spirit, is all the defense He needs. Somehow, I don’t think I need to be the defense attorney for the One who is the fortress, shield, and strong tower.