An unfair advantage

Every nurseryman knows which species cannot survive in close proximity to another. The most obvious example is shade. A large tree will take up all the sunlight in a given area, and leave none for the plants surrounding it.

Sedum can grow quickly, seemingly when you turn your back for a second, and literally run over plants nearby. My saxifrage didn’t stand a chance. The sedum had the advantage of rapid growth, and choked out the saxifrage.

In a few situations where I was discussing the Bible with someone who did not share my faith, the other party complained, “This isn’t a fair debate. You had formal training, and I don’t know that much about the Bible.”

I truly love to share my faith. An insatiable hunger had driven me to audit classes with my husband at preaching school and to continue to dig into the word of God to know it better. I have a long way to go!

Here’s the big difference between an unfair advantage in horticulture and one in a discussion of important subjects — the second scenario is an opportunity to learn.

Conferences and meetings about gardening abound in our area. I don’t mind attending and asking questions from someone who knows more than I do. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I will buy the plant they recommend, or build the structures that they enthusiastically describe. I may have a conflict of interest with my bank account. A homeowner’s association may not allow a chicken coop.

The purpose of discussion and the exchange of information is not to win an “argument,” but to learn and grow.

Time and again, my worldview is challenged, and my faith is challenged. If I ran from the challenger, what kind of witness would that be to others? They would surmise that my faith is only a preconceived, possibly faulty and flimsy notion.

Does that mean I would discuss the age of the earth with a geologist? Would I discuss the doctrine of the so-called “rapture” with a Baptist university professor? YES!

That does not mean that I encourage brand-new Christians to open themselves up to an attack on their faith.

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food” (Hebrews 5:12, ESV).

If you are not ready for such discussions, one of four things could be happening.

  1. You have only recently become a Christian, and need the spiritual “milk” of the word, in other words, you need to learn the basics before you get into complex issues. That’s okay.
  2. You may have a weak faith and belief system handed down to you from your parents.
  3. You may be too indolent to delve into the “why” of your faith, and the “why nots” of the many differing religious doctrines that are so pervasive today.
  4. You may be closed-minded and hard of heart, clinging to a belief system that is not going to be of any use in eternity.

Please consider why you believe as you do. Strengthen your faith, or change it, by careful study of the scriptures, as the Bereans did (Acts 17:11). Then augment that study by reading good books and articles by Christian authors.

Then you will be able to stand up to those who would challenge your faith. What do you have to lose?

I lost my pretty saxifrage to the unruly sedum. It wasn’t strong enough. Strengthen your faith, and then you won’t be fearful of improving it.

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