How Do I Say This?

 

How Do I Say This?

“In your hearts, revere Christ as Lord.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you

to give the reason for the hope that you have.

But do this with gentleness and respect.”     1 Peter 3:15

 

Recently, I read a devotional written by a seminary classmate of mine, Pastor Paul Owens, included in the latest edition of the LCMC newsletter. In his article he describes an interaction with a relative who defines himself as an agnostic. In their conversation, Pastor Paul responded to his skepticism, “Tell me about the god you don’t believe in – maybe I don’t believe in that god either.”

Often, when we are with relatives, friends and/or neighbors who express skepticism toward faith in Jesus Christ, it’s difficult to know what to say.  As I read Pastor Paul’s experience, I was encouraged and inspired by his response. His question felt honest, respectful, gentle, and I believe, opened the door for further dialog. Paul invited his second cousin to share his experience and problems with Christianity. Paul could then respond to his doubts and questions and also share what he believes and what he doesn’t believe.

Sometimes we just need a statement that can help get the conversation going.
 

I can remember a similar experience when Pastor Mark Vander Tuig, our LCMC Coordinator came to Our Saviour’s and shared an encounter with a young girl who was going through a difficult time. As their flight was coming to an end, he shared the truth of the Gospel with 3 simple statements.

 

He said, “What I know is this:

God LOVES YOU!

Jesus DIED for YOU!

And He has a PLAN for YOUR LIFE!”

 

I’ve never forgotten those words and have used that simple trifecta many times to bring the Gospel to bear in a person’s life. We cannot make people receive this message – that is the Holy Spirit’s work, but we are called to witness to the truth. Having a few spiritual tools in our spiritual toolbox sure helps.

 

One other tool to keep handy as you talk to people in all sorts of circumstances is the “I” statements. Accusatory statements like, “YOU are hard headed”, “YOU just need to believe”, and “Why can’t YOU understand?” obviously will shut down conversations. So also, remaining silent, looking at your shoes, or excusing yourself to the bathroom will also not be a helpful witness. But using “I” statements, respectfully sharing your own personal experience and faith journey will propel the conversation forward.

 

Many people have told me, “I just don’t know how to respond to nonbelievers.” Hopefully, there are a few nuggets here that you can think about and pray over.

 

We are going to face more and more people in our lives and in our culture that reject Jesus, the Bible, faith and eternity. If we can be prepared to share our own personal testimony of faith, and also be prepared with a few open ended questions, sprinkled with love and respect, we never know where the Holy Spirit might take it.

 

 “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses.”  Acts 1:8

Your Fellow Witness in Christ, Pastor Mark

 
 

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