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Here's an Idea.

Ideas. Why is that such a scary word? Don't get any ideas. She's been filling her head with ideas. I think sometimes we forget that life is a process—a never-ending progression of ideas—and that living in this world means exposure to all kinds of them, just as living with Christ means being changed by the ideas he brought into the world when he came.

I've lived most of my Christian life on the defensive. I knew what I believed and when I came against something that contradicted it, I had my sword up and my shield ready and an arsenal of scriptures to fling wildly at the first sign of disagreement. My heart was in the right place: I wanted Truth to be victorious. But I can't help but wonder if my method was just a tad bit too . . . aggressive.

Ideas are extremely personal. That is to say, we rarely come up with anything completely novel ourselves, but when we decide to believe something, we make it our own. That goes for us in our personal and wonderful journeys with Christ, but it also goes for the stranger sitting next to us on the bus, or behind us in the grocery line. Those people have ideas that mean something to them and will not necessarily be shaken by a biblical blitz. They do need Truth, and it is our role to share it with them, but plugging our ears to other people's thoughts and flinging verses at them isn't going to do that.

We need to be able to listen. Even to ideas that frighten us or make us uncomfortable or contradict what we know to be absolute Truth. Not because we want to internalize those ideas—absolutely not—but because we need to love and respect the people we are witnessing to—love them enough to meet them where they're at and help them get from there to Christ. The good witness doesn't just stomp all over a person's ideas and then hand them a gospel tract and say, "Well, you're wrong about everything. Read this."

Without love and respect and a willingness to hear people out, no one will want to hear what we have to say, and they certainly won't want to accept it.

I think it's important to remember that everybody starts in a different place. C.S. Lewis was a former atheist who still believed in evolution when he converted. It took him years to grow and mature in his feelings on that subject, but he got there by focusing on the critical points—the salvational ones—and letting Jesus work on the rest of his ideas. It was a journey. A process. It is for us, too. We will look back one day on the ideas we once had and wonder what we were thinking, because this adventure is about growth. Every step we take toward truly Christ-like minds means leaving ideas behind and taking on new ones all the time.

The key is to be firm in the Truth. There's no use in listening to every Joe Bloe's ideas in the name of evangelism if we're not solid in what we're evangelizing, because that is dangerous. Step one is to know Christ, to be solid in him, to have our ideas firmly rooted, locked, and bound up in what he says is True. Only then will we be able to help people make the leap from their idea of life to his.

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