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When Engaging with an Antagonist

When Engaging with an Antagonist

Why do I keep on going back?

I’ve repeatedly vowed to distance myself from the current soap box cyberspace when certain “discussions” turn south. It’s those times when very little listening is happening while much offensive jargon is being spewed, and fashioned for the sole purpose of “educating others”. But the narrow views of these bully-types clearly show the lack of knowledge they tout to possess. It appears that those who desire to “educate” us “less informed ones” have little understanding of the issues they continually shove down the throats of those who happen not to have the same world view.

Even now, as I write this, I feel the push back from those who would label me a certain type, put me in a certain category, and keep me at arms distance because they think they know me (have you ever been labeled a “Karen”?). I would like to have one decent conversation with another human who disagrees with my faith, my morals, or my politics who does not revert to sarcasm, eye-rolling, or any number insults to get their point across. It’s disconcerting to say the least if this trajectory continues into the time my grandbabies grow to be adults. They are being taught to respect others and not to always expect get their way. But the way I see this culture operate, it appears that just the opposite is being taught.

Do I sound just a little ticked off? I’d like to call it righteous indignation, but wisdom calls my name and I’m compelled to ask an honest question: How are we as Christians supposed to respond when antagonists are up in our faces?

If you’re like me, you’ll want to respond immediately with truth. You’ll want to present a reasonable argument, replete with findings and personal experiences. But unfortunately, if you’re like me, you’ll quickly find out that your words turn to vapor in the ears of the other as they are bent on overlooking reason, talking you down, and shouting louder.

As I look to the Word of God (THE final word) to learn from Him, I find the clear answer. As I list these scriptures, I pray that you, the reader, will allow them to sink into your soul, rising up in your spirit each and every time you encounter an opposition that can throw you into a kneejerk reaction. I’m slowly getting better at this.

*The first appears as a contradiction, but I believe it’s a call to Holy Spirit for discernment as to whether or not and, also, when to answer while preventing oneself from falling into an enemy trap:

Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you yourself will be just like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes.
(Proverbs 26:4-5)

*Then there’s a personal favorite because it reminds me that I, too, have played the fool before I knew Jesus:

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy … But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned. (Titus 3:3-6; 9-11)  (I realize this passage applies to church doctrine, but the principle is the same.)

*And this one is the very reason I’m even writing this blog:

Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. (2 Timothy 2:14; 16)

And there you have it. There’s so much more we might want to say to convince a person unto truth. But truth be told, if they are in it for argument’s sake and not for open discussion, it’s so much better to drop the discussion, quietly walk away, and pray.

I still have so much more to learn (and unlearn) in life. But one thing I know for sure is this: My many words are not sufficient to change a mind, no less a heart. Yet God’s Spirit can work wonders as He mysteriously partners with my prayers, giving me peace as I commit my antagonist to Him. And who knows, we might eventually meet in the middle.

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Lori Travers

Lori finds the Joy of the Lord to be her strength. Born and raised an Italian Jersey girl, she has finally settled in the south as Reynolda Presbyterian church became her new home. Ministry to women, reading, writing, cooking, and anything having to do with animals are her sweet spots. Having a background in cardiac testing, she chose to stay home and raise three incredible children who are now married, and currently has 2 precious granddaughters and one faithful husband of 34 years.

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