16th January 2018

Identity Protective Cognition? 

“When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness, in fear, and much trembling. My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power.”
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (CSB) 

One of the reasons we can struggle to share our faith with other people is contained in our headline. Identity Protective Cognition simply means that people’s defence mechanisms kick in when they feel their identity and core values are threatened.

People’s identity and values are formed by their family, culture, education and work relationships, all reinforced by the media they watch and listen to. When they feel those things are under pressure they become defensive and close their minds to discussion or argument that threatens them. In fact arguing that someone has wrong values actually both strengthens their belief in them, alienates them and makes them see us as an enemy, not a friend.

So does this mean it’s impossible to share the gospel with other people? Yes, in the sense that you can’t argue people into the Kingdom! But No, in the sense that we need to learn and understand that a different approach is needed.

First, we need to listen to people without judging them, and to show them God’s love for them with wise words and actions. If we make friends only to get people to come to church or force our beliefs on them, we will fail. Our friendship must be genuine, based on our understanding of God’s love for all human beings. Our approach should be one of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control—all fruits of God’s Spirit ( Galatians 5:22). These qualities should make us as Christians stand out and lead to people asking us a reason of the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15). When people ask us about our love for, and faith in, God we must be gentle and use wisdom so that their defence mechanisms don’t kick in and block what we are sharing with them.

We must also trust God, through the Holy Spirit, to work with people to bring them to the point of asking and to give us the ability to be a stepping stone not a stumbling block! Like Paul, our words should be a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, not our wisdom.

Father, we know that you love us personally and individually, despite our faults and failings. We want to share your love with others, as you will, so help us to develop right relationships with others and have the patience to wait for them to be ready to ask and listen.
In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Keith Hartrick


About the Author:
Keith Hartrick is an Elder in Grace Communion Church – Leeds, and serves on the Church Council there.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Leeds
Garden Village Welfare Association Community Centre
Pendas Way
LS15 8LE

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2PM

Local Congregational Contact:
Malcolm Arnold
Phone: 01484-312347
Email: malcolm701@googlemail.com

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2 Responses to “16th January 2018”

  1. John Rodgers on January 16th, 2018 3:25 pm

    Hello Keith
    Thank you for your day by day. You are right in that we should approach people as you have explained, however my experience is that that, your approach even though correct it is not enough.
    We remember the comments of staff at feast sites years ago, they went as follows ” it is really great having you here you are such nice people”. As far as I know no one asked to join us. More recently at a Christian Exhibition my wife and I had a similar thing said, ” when your lot are here we never have any trouble ” It is the same result,no enquiries to join any Christian group or Church.
    The answer is in the verse you quoted in the last 2 lines starting with the word but ” a demonstration of the Spirit’s power so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power”. Sadly this is where Church and we as individuals fail. There is very little demonstration of God’s power .

  2. Ian Woodley on January 16th, 2018 10:04 pm

    Hi Keith, great Day By Day. You’ve certainly left me thinking with your last line:”Like Paul, our words should be a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, not our wisdom.” Something to contemplate!
    Warm Regards

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