As our world grows smaller and we rub shoulders with people from different religious backgrounds, how do we explain what we believe in a way that they can understand?
Don’t Be Afraid
Too often fear makes us defensive about our faith. Don’t be afraid of someone who doesn’t share your point of view. Don’t be afraid of your Muslim co-worker or your Hindu neighbor. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a student who has no religion whatsoever.
Be Kind and Listen
Too many Christians fit the stereotype of being all mouth and no ears. We talk but we don’t listen. Or we listen just to have an excuse to talk some more. It’s not a sin to let someone else explain how they view the world. In fact, it’s simple human kindness to show some interest in the backgrounds of other people. Close your mouth, open your ears, listen intently and prayerfully, and let God lead the conversation. Show yourself friendly and God will open doors that you could never open on your own.
Keep Your Cool
Don’t be surprised when people react negatively. And don’t get angry. You can’t argue a person into the Kingdom of God. And you can’t insult them into believing in Jesus (2 Tim. 2:24-25). It helps to remember that those without Christ are spiritually blind (2 Cor. 4:4). Until their blindness is removed by the Holy Spirit, they will never “see” the truth. You might as well get angry with a blind person for not seeing the color green.
Know Your Stuff
Make sure you know what you believe. Don’t just read the Bible. Study it. Learn it. Memorize it. Find out what it teaches. Let the word of God be the firm foundation for your own life and also for your family. Many followers of other religions know more about what they believe than we do about what we believe. I think it is high time that we learned as much about Christianity as the Muslims know about Islam.
Be Bold, But Smile
It’s right at this point that so many of us fail. When someone disagrees with us the joy of the Lord is replaced with the wrath of God on our countenance. No wonder some people don’t want to talk to us. If people get angry, let it be because of the truth we preach, not because of our angry words. If they reject us, let it not be because we treated them rudely. If sinners reject Christ, let it be because they truly reject Him, and not because we lost our temper. Speaking the truth in love is always the best rule.
Be the Light
There is a tremendous spiritual hunger in our generation. That’s why Islam is on the rise in America. That’s why Eastern religions attract so many people. The incredible religious diversity testifies to the hunger inside every heart. We were made to know God, and if we do not fill the “God-shaped vacuum” with the truth, we will fill it with whatever substitute we can find.
The very fact that we live in such spiritual darkness means that when the light shines, it really shines. Let us not be discouraged by the difficulty of the task. Let us instead be encouraged by the opportunities of this hour. The people of this generation are eating at the devil’s trough when they could be feasting at the Father’s table. Let us go out from here into the highways and hedges and in Jesus’ name invite them to the banquet that never ends.
—Ray Pritchard, condensed