How can I talk to ‘smart people’ about God?
Q: How can I talk to my friends about God and Christian Science when they say intelligent people are too smart to have faith or believe in a higher power?
A: After a few significant healings during graduate school, including a healing of depression, I was on fire with Christian Science. I wanted to share what had so deeply transformed my life with others who I knew were searching for peace, comfort, and health. The problem? I was finishing my degree at a prominent university, and many of my fellow students were not very interested in God and religion.
I was a member of the Christian Science organization (CSO) at my university, and one day was invited to a lunch gathering of religious ministries on campus. I’ll be honest: I felt some trepidation. Shortly before this event, we’d held a Christian Science lecture on campus, which no one had attended. And I’d been openly mocked while distributing posters about the talk. While I knew that everyone in this lunch group would be open to spirituality, I also knew that some probably had ideas about Christian Science that were … not great.
I realized I needed to approach this event differently than I had done with my previous experiences sharing Christian Science. So before the lunch I asked myself, “What is it that I’m sharing?” By sharing my own understanding of God gained from my study of Christian Science, and how it has healed and transformed my life, I was being authentic, and I knew that others would respond to this authenticity.
I also knew I needed to trust that my own experience—modest though it might seem—was adequate. While my motive for sharing in the past had always been sincere, at times I’d had a tendency to talk at people about God and Christian Science. In those instances, instead of being experiential, or a “heart thing,” Christian Science would come across as simply another academic theory—and it was often ridiculed and argued with as such. In other words, when I talked about Christian Science from an intellectual place, others responded in a similar way—which didn’t lead to productive conversations. This time, I resolved to instead share healings I’d had, and to admit when I didn’t know the answer to a question or was still struggling with it myself.
By sharing my own understanding of God and how it has healed and transformed my life, I was being authentic.
The other difference? Prayer. Prior to attending that luncheon, I really prayed to understand that my role was not to persuade or argue with anyone. I simply had to bear witness to the way God was working in each individual’s life, and to share my own blessings from allowing God to be a presence in my life. I also made sure that I mentally broke down any perceived wall between Christian Scientists and others; I realized that each one of us, whether we’re aware of it or not, is actually the reflection of God. Because we each have this relation to God, it’s so natural that opportunities would arise to have conversations about God and spirituality.
I also realized that every good quality—including intelligence, receptivity, and faith—comes from God. So how could these qualities be at odds with each other when they all have the same source? Impossible. Likewise, each of us, as the reflection of God, must include all these qualities in perfect balance.
Every good quality—including intelligence, receptivity, and faith—comes from God. So how could these qualities be at odds with each other when they all have the same source?
At the event, I sat next to two men, and when they found out I was a Christian Scientist, I could tell that they had some preconceived notions. But I continued to pray while we spoke about other subjects, trusting that the same God had called us all there and was speaking to each of our hearts. When the conversation eventually shifted to Christian Science and the CSO, their demeanor had completely changed. They were sincerely interested, obviously respected my intelligence, and at the end expressed genuine appreciation for what I had shared about Christian Science. What had seemed to be a potentially tense conversation became a respectful and mutual exchange of ideas.
Honestly, not every conversation I’ve had about Christian Science since then has been as encouraging. But I continue to pray each day to know when to open my mouth, while trusting God to give me the words, and when I simply need to live my life as a practicing Christian Scientist and trust that divine Love is speaking to Her children in a way that each of us can always understand.