[Apr 27]--Listening To Your Enemies

2 Sam. 16:5-14

Lately there have been a number of books which are on the forefront of what's called the “New Atheism.” These are atheist “evangelists” who aren't satisfied with disbelieving in God themselves. They spend time, money, and resources to convince other people to abandon theism. Of course, in America, their main target is Christianity, since that’s the religion that most people claim as their own. Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Samuel Harris, and others have written bestselling books which tell us why belief in God is not just irrational, but harmful and a retardant on our growth into civilized beings.

I’ve listened to several debates between Hitchens and theists (mostly Christians), and I find them fascinating. The thing I find most amusing is his claim boasting that HIS arguments are going to bring down Biblical Christianity like the house of cards it is. The funny part is that he’s presenting them as new arguments, which they’re definitely not. The church has been under assault from these exact same attacks for over 2,000 years, and I don’t think that this man (or any other) is going to come up with the unanswerable point that’s going to cause it to collapse, especially since he isn’t saying anything new.

The reason I bring it up is because I think that listening to his arguments is healthy (for the most part), not harmful. I think it’s good to listen to our enemies. Most of what they say is utter garbage, but some of what they say might be valuable. All of us are subject to self-deception at times, and the church might even be talking past the rank-and-file Non-Christian because of ignorance of what they’re thinking.

Is there a biblical precedent for my thinking on this? Why, yes there is.

Even in the midst of a life-threatening crisis, David knew this principle. He was on the run from his own son, who was trying to steal the kingdom from him and was presumably looking to take his father’s life. While on the march, a man named Shimei cursed him in the name of the Lord. David’s followers in loyalty wanted to silence the man permanently, but David forbade them from doing so. He believed that God might have incited him to make these accusations, and that the jury was still out on whether the Lord was still with David or not. In other words, even his enemy’s taunts might have enough truth in them so he didn't want to dismiss them out of hand.

How do we distinguish the true from the false when examining what our enemies are saying? The same way we examine everything else—we hold it up to the light of God’s word. When someone's criticizing us, either as an individual believer or as a representative of the church, we ought to prayerfully listen and be able to pick out the bad from any solid points they might be making.

Lord Jesus, when someone is hurling an accusation against me, help me to listen, because your voice just might be behind it.

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