In last week’s blog, you read comments from a number of non-Christians about what they think of Christians who try to evangelize them. Whether you agree with all their comments, that is what they believe. Here are some common ideas they expressed and some ideas I’ve learned to deal with their reality;
1. Don’t try to force your morality on me. Ironically, Paul says the same thing; “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” 1 Corinthians 5:12,13a
Many of the non-Christians I know are kind, generous, and have a moral system that make sense to them. We have a moral system based on our confidence in the Bible and love for God, neither-of-which non-Christians have. Why would a non-Christian give up sex before marriage, for instance, just because we tell them it’s a sin?
“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:14
When meeting with non-Christians, I never talk about their sinful behaviors. But I do talk about the sin nature in every person. Every non-Christian knows they do things that violate even their own moral code. I explain why that is, and what Christ did to address this problem in all of us. I’m not into behavior modification or sin management. Without Christ, their sinful habits are the least of their concern. 2. Jesus still has a better reputation than his followers. So talk about Jesus. I often ask this question; “Have you actually read a single book of the Bible?” Most say they haven’t. So, I recommend that before they reject the faith of Jesus, they ought to read the Book of Luke and find out what Jesus actually taught.
If they agree (and most do) I have them read the Book of Luke for four weeks, and offer to meet weekly to answer their questions. The majority of time they are impressed with Jesus and are much less hostile to the gospel. But they’re often confused about why the Christians they know don’t seem to live like Jesus taught. So let’s talk about the reputation of his followers.
There’s not a lot we can do about the hypocrisy of other Christians, except admit it and apologize for it. But even more importantly confess your own struggles to live up to Jesus’ teachings. You have no idea how powerful it is for non-Christians to hear Christians admit their own sin. And I don’t mean just your sins of the past. Tell them about the anger you expressed to your wife, a time recently, when you exaggerated the truth or were angry with God. Let them know you struggle daily with sin. Transparency is a powerful testimony of a transformed life.
3. Don’t bad-mouth other religions. Of course we believe other religions are false and untrue. But telling someone their religion is false makes it almost impossible to move the conversation past a debate, to a relationship. Having said that, if I’m asked for instance if I think Islam is a false religion, here’s my approach;
Anyone who deeply believes his or her religion is right, by definition believes all other religions are wrong. The word “false” implies there is no truth in other religions. However, I’ve found there is some good, moral truth in all religions, so I never call them “false.”
The question is are they true, in this sense? Do they accurately describe the nature of our problem (sin) and God’s solution for that problem (Jesus)? What sets Christianity apart from all other religions is this; All other religions require people to “Do” things to win God’s favor. Only Christianity says that favor with God has been won by Jesus on the cross. It is “Done.” It is a free gift of God to all who truly believe. That makes Christianity unique from all other religions. Humans would never and have never, create a “Done” religion. Only a loving God would.
4. Don’t make me the target of your evangelism Most of the non-Christian men I meet with are not true followers of other religions. They don’t want any part of any religion and generally resist any effort to “convert” them.
Therefore, I try very hard to simply be friends. I talk about my family, my passions, stories of growing up, etc. Before long, they begin to see a pattern in my life. My love for Jesus is a line that runs through every story. It’s the glue that connects all the stories and people in my life. I want them to see that I’m not religious – I am in love with Jesus!
No matter what irreligious people say, almost all are looking for a way to make sense of this world. When they see that you have belief system that works, they will be drawn to it. But take your time and be patient with them. Often it’s months before I share with them how they can become a Christian. More than often, they’ll actually ask me! In next week’s blog, I’ll share with you what I tell them about the journey of faith.
How following Jesus works in real life.
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