Is That Your Final Question?

Sometimes, you have to answer a fool according to his folly. Finding myself most often with a tendency towards the foolish side of unwise, I try to play it safe and not answer the fool according to his folly. But, like Solomon says, there’s a time to give an answer to the contentious. Jesus certainly thought so. Though at time He kept silent, there were times that He delivered verbal punches. I think this kind of discernment is so important for a ministry in China – the contentious are strong in number and position. Unlike some cultures where the doors of the church filter out the disinterested, here the contentious will often gladly show up at your events, hear you out, shrug and prattle.

This past Saturday, we had a guy like this. After the Bible study, he wormed his way through the herd and tried to pick a fight with me. He wanted to know if I’d ever seen God, if I really believed Jesus rose from the dead, if I really thought people had a conscience apart from what man’s law tells them, etc., etc. His questions didn’t surprise me (they couldn’t come up with a new one in a hundred years), but the situation was different than usual. There were half-a-dozen other students listening in, wanting to know if there really were answers to these questions. So what do you do when someone asks questions without an interest in the answer, while the people around him really are interested in the answer?

It seems like Jesus was most merciless with the contentious when they were in the presence of the interested. Again, I don’t find Him doing much arguing – rather He ended the conversation as quickly as possible, turning His attention to the sheep. But I don’t know who could imagine that Jesus didn’t leave those interchanges on top. He swiftly silenced the critics. I don’t know how a person can ever do that without the aid and strength of God on their side.

Our guy obviously fancied himself a scientific thinker, and he obviously has never read the Bible – who has, right? So I asked him if he had. Big surprise. He’s read the first page. I told him not to try to act scientific and knowledgeable if he’s never read the Bible. If I have read the Bible, and he has not, I’m obviously in a much more authoritative position to speak as to whether or not it is true. Science is about observation, and he hasn’t done much of that. Fortunately, this guy has a drop of two of honesty in him. I’m sure there’s plenty who don’t. He got sheepish pretty quick. He said he’d read the Bible this week everyday. Hope so… Either way, he shut up, and got out of the way of the people who were truly interested.

So, I think there’s definitely a time to address the contentious, and I think it is probably related to the occupants of the other seats at the table.

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