Often when Christians encounter a person who is very negative toward the church and Christianity, their initial response is defensive. However, my response is curious: what is it about this person’s history that has led to them taking this dour attitude? More often than not, there is a story behind the hostility, and we can learn it if only we take the time to listen.
These days, if you ask me whether I’d like a bowl of blackberries, the chances are I will decline politely. If you’re paying attention, you might even notice a thinly concealed grimace. It’s true: I’m not a fan of blackberries.
If you happen to be a lover of blackberries, you might be incredulous at my response. But hear me out. A few months ago I dumped a pint of blackberries into a strainer and rinsed them thoroughly. Then I put them in a bowl and started eating. After a couple minutes I was almost done when I looked into the bowl and saw along with the three remaining blackberries one sodden dead fly.
I used to love blackberries but after that experience my tastes were altered. Now the thought of blackberries immediately brings to mind sodden dead flies.
This is a trivial example, of course, but that simply underscores the point: if a trivial negative experience can have such long-lasting and deleterious effects, one can only imagine the impact of some of the serious sodden dead flies that are the catalysts for people leaving the church.