Confrontation in the Classroom
Confrontations are tough anytime, but especially when they’re about one’s faith.
"I asked for something about your life, not for something with religious connotations."
"How do you know there's a heaven?"
With a smirk, the instructor looked around the classroom, as if for confirmation. “Personally, I feel that all Christians need a crutch.”
I was shocked. The journalism instructor had just broken into the middle of my oral presentation. It is one thing to critique a presentation once the person is finished; it’s quite another to interrupt and make fun of them.
Red-faced, I sat down. I was taking a journalism course to hone my skills. I was here for training, not to have someone attack my faith.
To talk about my life story, as I had been asked to do, must obviously include my Saviour. I hadn’t deliberately made it an occasion to evangelize. I pondered, should I just leave it and suffer the insult, or should I take this as an opportunity to say something?
“Anyone who has to hang on to an invisible figurehead to get them through this life,” the instructor continued, “might as well choose the tooth fairy or Santa. At least they give you money or toys.” This was accompanied by a big chuckle from him, and from some of the other students.
That was it!
I stood up again, held out a trembling left hand and pointed to my wedding rings.
“See these?” I said softly. “I am married to a wonderful man. Do you take on faith what I just said?”
“Well, you are either married, or you are divorced, or widowed and have forgotten to take off your rings,” he responded.
I ignored him. “If you believe what I say, that is faith. I know my husband is alive and real, and nothing you can say will make any difference.
“You have faith, when you go to bed at night that you’ll wake up in the morning. When you reach out in the dark to turn on the light, you trust that it’ll actually turn on. When you put the key in the ignition, you have faith that your car will start. Though not as reliable as my faith in the Word of God, you use faith every day in your life.”
“How do you know there's a heaven?” he said.
“How do you know there isn’t?” I responded.
“I look at Christians as cripples, unable to stand on their own, clinging to an unsubstantiated hope that they are going to live forever,” he went on. It was his course, and that meant he was right and I was wrong. That should have been the end of the matter.
But I wasn’t finished. “Have you ever read the Bible?” I asked.
He flapped his right hand and shook his head, no.
“You obviously have an enquiring mind, or you wouldn’t be a journalist,” I said. “The Bible tells us that if we seek, we will find, and we’ll find God if we search for Him with all our heart.”
I sat down. I was shaking.
The instructor had admitted he had never read the Bible; never researched the subject. Had I shouted? Been rude? No. In fact, I had spoken softly and far more respectfully than he had spoken to me.
“Can we put this down to a difference of opinion, then?” he asked, chuckling, but he did not draw any laughter from the students this time.
After class, as we made our way out, he pulled me aside.
“I wasn’t trying to make fun of your life,” he said, “just to point out that that fact stands on past history. Faith is like keeping your fingers crossed. Only the weak need a crutch.”
I am seldom at a loss for words, but finding the right ones is often a different matter.
“God is as real to me as my husband is,” I said. “I know my husband is alive. I can feel him. That is the way God is for me, real and vital. The only wooden thing I cling to is not a crutch, but the cross of Jesus Christ.
“Your words may have caused some of the other students in this room to question, but they have not made a difference to my faith. My beliefs are solid.
“I know where I am going. Perhaps you don’t. I challenge you to find out what it’s all about before you call someone’s belief a crutch, or before death stares you in the face. Until you can prove there is no Christ, or heaven, how can you say differently? I challenge you to not make blanket statements like that without seriously searching for the real Christ. “Read the Book of John, read the entire New Testament. While you are at it, read the book of Isaiah. It was written thousands of years before the birth of Christ, yet talks about His birth and crucifixion.”
I had to stop. I was out of breath and maybe on the borderline of failing the course. But I was glad I had said these things to him. I hadn’t stood up for my beliefs, this man might try this again with another Christian – perhaps one far younger in the faith than I am.
I still pray that the enquiring mind of this intelligent journalist will cause him to pick up a Bible and find for himself an unshakable faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – a God who will change his life forever.
Vonnie Mostat is a writer based in Langley, British Columbia.
Originally published in B.C. Christian News, August 2010. Used with permission. Copyright © 2010 Christianity.ca.