We know that atheists and agnostics have been around since the beginning. There is always someone in the crowd who will disagree about the existence of God, and sadly this view seems to be growing.
I admit that our freewill and independent thinking are beneficial components to establishing what we believe, but it never ceases to amaze me that we would argue over the reality of a divine Creator. I can understand different worldviews about science, social issues, politics and even some religious differences, but the subject of whether or not there is a God troubles me deeply.
I have also noticed an increased animosity from those who do not believe in the Bible toward those who do. As a Christian minister, I've had my share of attacks from individuals who declare I am insane for accepting the God of the Bible as a legitimate source of spiritual truth. My columns are a regular target, and in my experiences, nonbelievers do not usually exhibit their disagreements with civility but instead choose to unleash their perspectives with aggressive hostility.
It is Christ within us that can sense their internal misery, and this causes us to have compassion as we hope that somehow their eyes will be opened before it's too late. However, at the same time, we must admit that it's also tempting to argue and fight back against those who are intentionally trying to insult us.
So what is the right way to handle these offensive and slanderous personal attacks? Jesus Christ, as the greatest role model of grace and humility in the history of the world, demonstrated that meekness is not weakness but strength under control.
There are many men and women who have faced incredible persecution, and we can admire how they also embraced the attitude of Jesus in their life. Jackie Robinson is one of those individuals. He was a sports megastar known as the first African-American to break the color barrier as a Major League Baseball player. He won Rookie of the Year in 1947 and went on to become a baseball legend.
There is not enough room on this page to describe his talents and abilities, but what I want to emphasize is the type of person he was. It's difficult to imagine everything Jackie Robinson endured when he stepped into the spotlight of a world that was filled with prejudice. The horrific name-calling, the nasty and hate-filled insults and people spitting on him were all intended to hurt him and cause him to quit. But instead of railing against them with bitterness and hostility, he displayed a remarkable presence of grace and integrity.
An important part of this story that is often not mentioned is that Robinson and Branch Rickey, the man who signed him with the Brooklyn Dodgers, were both devout Christians. It was no secret this was a huge step toward desegregating the sports world, and they were also fully aware of what a strong resistance they were going to face. Their strategy was to maintain self-control and refuse to retaliate no matter how fierce the persecution. This mindset would eventually become the standard for the civil-rights movement and, by the way, this historic moment in time was also 17 years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
It is told that Rickey encouraged Robinson and said this will require a person with deep faith and the character of Christ. They both discussed the need for a fervent commitment to the Scriptures in Matthew 5:38-41 that Christ himself exhibited when he went to the cross. "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles."
Rickey issued Robinson this pointed challenge: "I'm looking for a ballplayer with guts enough to not fight back" and with the grace of heaven, Robinson was used as an instrument to accomplish God's will. Let us be reminded today that we are not called to fight back against those who hate us but to demonstrate love, integrity, humility and self-control.
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