At one point in your life you probably caught an episode or two of MythBusters the mystery solving, question answering, scientific method using show hosted by Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, which aired on Discovery Channel up until last year. It was an interesting show and most of the time a family appropriate show. Viewers wanted to see if their questions, often times involving explosions, would pan out or not. Could this really be done or would the myth be busted?
Trevin Wax, Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project, has written an article for TheGospelCoalition.org titled “Christians Must Be Myth Busters.” The fact that MythBusters lasted 15 seasons, still finds success with reruns, and has a spin off show on Netflix called The White Rabbit Project, shows that people at their core have questions and desire answers.
But many people have questions that extend outside the bounds of scientific study. These are questions on the purpose of life and what happens after death. Wax states that some ideas are too big to be proven or disproved by the scientific method. Wax has written a book that releases in March titled This Is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel. He writes about the myths that surround our lives and give shape to our worldview.
Here are some popular myths today that cannot be proven or disproven with a science experiment:
- Money can buy happiness.
- The purpose of life to is to know yourself.
- Being yourself without restriction or restraint is the only way you’ll be truly happy.
- A good life is one with money and lots of social interaction.
- Living a moral life is enough.
- If you are comfortable and healthy you have everything you need.
- If you’re a good person you’ll get to the afterlife.
- To really be someone you need to be remembered.
And the list goes on…
“Christians ought to be the best myth busters. That is, we ought to be able to recognize the stories that affect society and all the people in it, ourselves included. And we ought to recognize both the longings and the lies in the stories we tell ourselves.”
Too often as Christians we see myths in the lives of others and do nothing about it, or sometimes we jump right in with our myth busting defenses and forget about the person all together. Did we take the time to get to know the person, to try to understand why they believe what they believe?
We can’t just say, hey you stop believing that because you’re wrong! There is a deep desire and longing that underlines every myth. If someone believes a myth, why is it? What are they really longing for in life? As Christians we know what they’re really missing.
Wax points out that though it’s easy to chastise or mock people who believe bogus lies; “…it’s another thing to listen carefully to the people around us, so that we observe the yearning that may be expressed in that common belief.”
No one likes to be told that they’re wrong; especially if you don’t know the person or you don’t feel like they’ve listened to your side of things. You might even ask, who does this person think she or he is to tell me this? But if you know someone or you at least feel like the person has listened to you, you are much more likely to listen respectfully to their thoughts or ideas and possibly even engage in a meaningful dialogue about the subject matter.
If you can get to the bottom of why a person finds a particular lifestyle or worldview appealing, then you can start to help them understand where that longing comes from and how they can achieve true happiness and joy. Wax explains,
“Listen first. Then, when we play the role of myth busters, we won’t ever make people feel inferior or stupid. No, the gospel ought to make people feel relieved. We have good news in that the exhausting, never-ending search for joy in the caverns of one’s own self is actually available through the selfless sacrifice of Someone outside of ourselves.”
Yes the gospel is offensive…it’s offensive to a self-centered lifestyle. But the gospel is not oppressive; on the contrary, the gospel offers true freedom and lasting joy. If you understand the benefit of the gospel then you want it to be true, and you do everything in your power to search out that truth and understand it.
“Francis Schaeffer was once asked what he would say if he had an hour to present the gospel to someone. He said he’d listen for 55 minutes and then spend the last five minutes sharing the gospel. Now that’s a myth buster—someone who listens carefully in order to bring the light of the gospel to the longings and lies expressed in a sinner’s heart.”
To read Trevin Wax's article in its entirety please visit TheGospelCoalition.org.
So as Christian myth busters, let's commit to listening first and speaking second. Let us offer gospel truth in a context of love and mercy. And may we not forget to show others what it’s like to live life according to the amazing grace, which we received when we understood but little.
Listening before speaking also applies to the time we spend with God. Crosswalk.com Contributor R. Kent Hughes addresses this in his article, "How to Listen First and Speak Second."
Listening to the Unchurched
Image courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: January 17, 2017
Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.