Overcoming “Strongholds”

Have you ever known somebody whose resistance to believing the Gospel of Jesus seemed unnaturally strong?  It is one thing to think somebody’s worldview is inaccurate.  I for one don’t believe much of what a scientific materialist, or a Hindu, or a Muslim believes to be true on the topics of origins, God or life after death.  I may find them to be without sufficient proof or even a little silly.  I understand that they think the same thing about my worldview, but I am not greatly offended by that.  If any one of them came to me and said, “I want to explain to you what I believe and why.”  I would probably accept their offer (especially if they were buying lunch).  I doubt that they would win a convert, but I wouldn’t shut out their witnessing without seriously listening.

It seems that the Christian Gospel arouses defensive behavior, closed minds and even animus in some.  Perhaps it is because the promise of eternal life stands in opposition to the forecast of eternal damnation.  I also think it is because humans have a inborn resistance to the true God and that there is an enemy that doesn’t want people to believe.  The result is what the Apostle Paul refers to as “strongholds”.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  (2 Corinthians 10:4-6)

So what are strongholds exactly?  I think they can be intellectual arguments that one hold to internally. They might even be biological, like they arrangement of neurons in the brain. Perhaps it could be a defect in the spirit of a person.  Strongholds could be many things.  I just know that it will take more than logic or experience to get past them.  It takes divine power.

If you care for a person like this, understand that you can’t pressure, threaten, or even reason them into the Kingdom of God.  You can only work with the Holy Spirit to win them over.  So pray.   Be extremely patient.  Never respond to hostility with hostility.  Love them in tangible ways.  Do your best to not give them one more reason to disbelieve you.  Be a great listener.  Listen more than you talk about these topics.  When you do get the chance to explain your faith, be prepared to quote the Bible.  Do so with gentleness and respect.

Most of us want a quick solution.  We want to blow-up these kind of strongholds and rush in with overwhelming logic.  The fact is that many times this takes years.  Sometimes people never will come to faith.  If you love someone, you will patiently do what you can.  We just wish we could do more.


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