Skeptics are often stereotyped as internet trolls, who sit around with a bag of potato chips, hunting social media platforms argue on. While there is a small minority who may fit the bill, I think overall this is a gross misrepresentation of the skeptical community. In fact, engaging this community has been one of the most rewarding parts of my life. Some might ask, "Why?" Here are three things about what I love about skeptics.
1. They've Helped Me Think Better
Now, I'm sure some of my fellow Christians may cringe a little in seeing the first heading. But, for me, this is something that has been very healthy for my own personal growth. One of the things we've missed out on in society is how to think. Too often, no matter the background, we are told what to think and not how to think. The primary people who've trained me in how to think through issues have been predominantly Christian. However, in the last 8-10 months, engaging members of the skeptical community has helped refine my ability to think through why I believe, what I believe. Furthermore, they've helped me gauge the validity of those reasons. For that, I'm incredibly grateful. And, I'm sure it'll be a life-long endeavor.
2. They Are Bold
One thing you won't find in the skeptical community is pansies. They are some of the boldest people I know when it comes to defending their worldview. They are confident in what they believe and won't hesitate to defend their beliefs. Now, do some go over the top with brashness, mockery, or back-handed compliments, sure. But doesn't every group have those? Most skeptics I encounter are bold, polite, and desire meaningful discussion. I applaud the community as a whole for this attribute; it is something I admire. In a society that overtly panders and tip-toes around people because they're scared of offending someone, most skeptics I've met aren't worried about such things. They have the ability to walk the fine line of boldness and politeness.
3. They've Helped Me Become A More Patient Person
So, you know that group I was talking about that takes it too far? Yeah, I love them as well because they test my patience. See, here's the thing, if Christians are going to meet people where they are, so the gospel can change who they are, we have to learn patience and long-suffering. We all know people who push our buttons, tests our emotional limits, and too often we shy away from engaging them. But they need the gospel, and other Christians need to see the example of biblical patience. I admit I haven't been perfect at this, nor would I ever claim that I have been. But, the more I engage this community, (especially the radical group) the more my ability to be patient grows. This not only helps me with specific types of people in the skeptical community but people in general.
Engaging the skeptical community has genuinely been one of the best experiences of my life. It has tested me emotionally and spiritually. It has caused me to think more seriously serious about the objections to Christianity. Even the radical skeptics have helped mold me into a more patient person. I admire their boldness, even though I disagree with their conclusions. Now, I'm not saying this is for everyone; some people just won't be able to handle the instances when they come across the stereotypical skeptic. But, here's what I also know, the gospel has the power to save everyone, including the skeptic but that can't happen if we don't engage them.