Keeping Your Cool in the Heat of Debate!
by David Russell
They say the character of ministry is this: Giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in beatings, in imprisonment, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness, for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well known, yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, having nothing yet possessing all things. (2nd Corinthians 6:3-10)
This is the heart of a Minister, the heart of an Apologist. I get asked often, “How do you have so much patience dealing with unbelievers and naysayers?” Part of it comes naturally; transformation does occur at rebirth yet part of it has to do with biting my tongue and living out the scriptures. People, when in debate, want something simple, something we all want- respect.
How does one passionately give that in a heated discussion? How does one endure irrationality, or juvenile puns? When reading these, examine your motive for debate, look at the response you receive, focus on the issue and not the pun. Sometimes, if someone is repetitive ask a heart question and never take a response personal. One thing has to remain in the fore front, your representing someone else, and that someone is Jesus!
Proverbs 16:32 HCSV, says; Patience is better than power! This displayed can create, in a response to an unbeliever, a relationship. This will establish common respect and begin breaking the walls of separation that usually bind us to a tit for tat debate. Relationship is where true change can occur; online, this happens through progressive dialogue. We also must remember the Holy Spirit truly changes the heart.
One thing as we debate, try and remember you are no better than the opposition. Be humble and remember his or her depravity. Remember, that God loves them so much, and gives them grace as you represent him as his witness. 1st Peter 3:15 doesn’t tell us just to give a defense, it also tells us to do it with gentleness and respect.
Truthfully, we live for others while we live and labor with Christ. I usually try to break the ice and bring things down to earth. By this I mean to relate to things most people like (i.e., going out for coffee after).
In conclusion, remember to love your neighbor as yourself. This applies even if he or she is just a goofy picture on Facebook. Always stay faithful to the message, for that is faithfulness to God. Never sugarcoat; pick and choose your battles; and if you don’t know something, be honest about it and then go and do some research!