When I was growing up, dodge ball was the perfect sport for me to develop evasion skills. During physical education class in elementary school, I would cower in the corner of the gym until my teammates were picked off. Then, in an attempt at heroism, I would snatch the abandoned dodge balls that rolled into my corner, lob them across enemy lines (aiming at nothing in particular), and retreat in a zigzag pattern to avoid the returning missiles aimed at my backside. On a good day, I could repeat this process numerous times. On a bad day, I was shot down in a barrage of rubber.
When my classmates chose teams, these valiant traits put me in high demand. In fact, they always saved the best for last.
Later in life, my skills proved advantageous when I was coerced into volleyball games at cookouts. I spent the games avoiding the ball, allowing my annoyed teammates to take the shots for me. One guy told me, “We’re playing volleyball, Marissa, not dodge ball.”
As I ponder these memories, I wonder if I’ve honed any dodging skills in my Christian life. For example, I’m capable at avoiding situations where I have to share my faith in Christ. In conversations with co-workers, I sometimes remain silent instead of sharing my belief in moral absolutes when controversial topics arise.
I doubt I’m alone in this struggle. Why do we Christians often shy away from tough questions and issues?
I think the first reason is fear. Horrified of being ridiculed or ostracized by those who don’t share our faith, we adhere to the excuse that we don’t want to offend them. In truth, the issue is our own cowardice. Jesus anticipated this weakness because he tells us in Matthew 5:11, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” Notice Jesus said when people insult and persecute you and not if. The good news is we will be blessed because of it.
Another reason is a lack of confidence in our ability to answer the questions non-believers might pose. Continuing to study God’s word regularly is one solution, and 1 Peter 3:15 reminds us, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have.” If we still feel inadequate, we should remember 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
For the non-athletes of the world, dodging balls will always be a valuable life skill. We just need to be sure those same skills don’t apply when it comes to freely sharing the message and truth of Jesus Christ with others.