The Power of Not Responding

Buddha was famous for responding to negative with positive.

Hearing this, an unconvinced man travelled from far away to test him.

With Buddha’s agreement, the visitor spent a weekend following him around and berating him with insult after insult, day and night, trying to get under his skin. (Have you ever felt like that?)

He said all manner of ill and evil, yet Buddha kept right on peacefully about his business.

After two days enduring this onslaught and showing no change in demeanor, Buddha surprisingly turned and asked his detractor, “Sir, may I ask you a question?”

Startled, the man said, “Yes.”

Buddha asked, “If a person gives another person a gift, and the recipient refuses the gift, to whom does the gift belong?”

The man reasoned, “Well, if the giver gives a gift, and the recipient refuses it, the gift still belongs to the giver.”

Buddha smiled and said, “You have spoken correctly.”

Buddha then inquired slyly, “So, if I refuse your abuse, to whom does it belong?”


Last week my “Do You Want To Get Well?” message got a larger than usual number of positive responses.

It got one negative response.

You see, I used a story from the bible (about a whiner, coincidentally) and as always I qualified it for everyone by pointing out that regardless of your beliefs, the story is still valid, like the story above.

Still, I got the following response:

“Mike, whining is annoying but so is proselytizing. Some of us who are atheists don’t buy into biblical babble.”

I did not respond.

However, and serendipitously, this and a few events this week have inspired me use the second half of this “WIW” to give you a look under the hood at exactly who I am, what I believe, and the reason for my sharing what I share with you every week.

First of all, I will never proselytize for anything. 

According to my Mac dictionary, proselytizing means “…trying to convert someone to your opinion, religion or party…”

Have you tried that, “converting” someone to your beliefs? People love it when you do that, don’t they?

Here’s the truth: People choose their beliefs.

You can share your experience, your beliefs and reasons, but trying to change someone… it just doesn’t work.

And, if merely sharing a story, regardless of the source, is taken as proselytizing to the point of insults, that says more about the sensitivities of the detractor.

Ah, but what if we instead opened a conversation, seeking first to understand why someone believes what they believe?

What if we realize that everyone’s belief or opinion came from something important to that person and sought to learn about it?

I believe the best we can do is love; and share our own experience, results and beliefs. In my faith this is what God asks of us. God says basically, “Love me, love them, and tell them what I did for you.”

Above, I was no more proselytizing for Buddha, than I proselytize for Dr. Seuss when I sing “I do not like green eggs and ham” to the tune of “Black Dog.” 🙂

My beliefs… 

So, I am a Christ-Follower. While my faith will obviously inform my opinions and outlook, my “What IF Keynote Experience” is totally secular. And the goal of my “What IF Weekly” is merely to share tools that I think, hope and pray will make your life better, whatever you believe or don’t.

You can read my raw and very personal story (of God literally saving me) on my website under “About Rayburn.”

I have zero desire to debate.

I have EVERY desire to love. To learn. To converse respectfully.

Then we just might get somewhere.

It would be great to have a real conversation with the responder above, learn the reasons for his/her beliefs… that could be insightful for both of us, yes?

Take Action… 

By the way, that’s what we do at Verve, our safe, non-judgmental, “Church For People Who Don’t Like Church” in Las Vegas. Visit us when you’re in town!

Thanks for indulging me, back to regular messages next week.

Live Truly, Truly Live,


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