This post is a real treat for me. I don't think I've ever had a reason to just address my fellow brothers and sister in Christ. If you are reading this and you don't believe in it, then you are very welcome to stick around if you want but for this post I am going to address other believers in Jesus, just like myself. I do call non-believers " the world" in this post, I am sorry if that offends anyone it is not my intention, but I just really want to make this letter that I am about to write be as true to how many believers would speak to each other as possible.
Dear brothers and sisters,
This is an open letter regarding the issue of relating to what we would call the world when it comes to talking about our faith and/or religion. There are a few things I would really like to bring to your attention, all of which I have learned from experience and are very much my own opinion and observations, but since the bible does say that we as believers are suppose to encourage each other in the faith, I feel justified in sharing my thoughts.
Firstly, please understand that all of these observations come from a genuine desire to see the kingdom of God grow and a heart of humility and love, but also a genuine concern that so often, we as Christians tend to come across as crazy, heartless or completely miss-guided. As well meaning as we are, many of us fall in to some common traps when attempting to communicate our faith to others. This is very damaging as it usually causes people to write us off and the God we claim to stand for as complete rubbish. Sometimes guys, we just need to get out of the way and let God do the work, He is more then capable of reaching people if He chooses to, and while it is our mission to preach the gospel to all, we must remember that what we carry is very precious and we need to be careful with our conduct for sharing the gospel for it to be effective.
Here are some common mistakes that we make, I know that I myself have made these mistakes in the past and so again, this comes from a heart that seeks to help further the gospel. I don't claim to know everything but this is what I have learned via life experiences.
Mistake 1 - Pushing the message
As well meaning as we are, many times because of our frustration that so many of our loved ones, may well be heading to hell, we become self-appointed crusaders and may even make certain people are assignment to get them saved. This may be done through badgering of Christian material, questions, insisting the person comes to church with you or by telling the person that what they believe is wrong and treating them like they know nothing. Although it doesn't apply to all of us, the term "bible bashing" had to come from somewhere.
The truth is, we can not convert anyone, it is only our job to share the gospel, if people wish to explore it, but pushing the message causes people to just put walls up and dismiss what we have to say. In other-words, by doing this, we are helping the devil with his mission and hurting the very God we serve.
Mistake 2 - Using Christian Jargon.
The world is not familiar with allot of the terms we use when we talk to each other. The average non-believer will look at you like you are from another planet if you start to talk about "being saved" asking Jesus in to your heart" or "being born again" just to name a few. We need to try and speak in terms that the person you are speaking to will understand, however if you really must use typical Christian terminology, please explain it first in simple terms.
Mistake 3 - Insisting Christianity is a relationship NOT a religion
To us, our relationship with Jesus is very precious and something we want to share with anyone who will listen because we know how amazing life with Jesus in the picture really is, so yes to us it is about relationship. However, the world views Christianity as a religion, partly because of history and partly because that is how it is portrayed by main-stream media, especially when you have people saying that they are a Christian and God hates X,Y,Z which always comes across as very law based and condemning. I know many Christians will not like what I am about to say, but guys we are apart of a religion, church is a religious institution especially in the many strains of denominations, tithing, communion, baptism, marriage and even prayer and fasting are all typical religious acts, some of which are practiced by other religions, not just us, to deny that when talking to the world, is only going to result in them thinking we are closed minded, ignorant and arrogant. When you explain your relationship with Jesus, do it in the manner of explaining how it enhances those seemingly religious practices to be more about relationship and doing it because of love and walking with a living God as appose to trying to state you believe in God but you don't see yourself a religious. Many people do believe in God, even if they are not a Christian, but the real difference is knowing Christ. Please try to keep that your focus when addressing this issue.
Mistake 4 - Getting into depth with social issues.
Paul warns about the dangers of getting into fruitless debates with the world. Remember they don't see any better because they have yet to have their eyes opened by Jesus. It is not their fault they don't know any better, the god of this world has blinded many. Politely direct the conversation in a different direction if you get these questions. Saying plainly not talking about that because the person won't understand will make that person think your calling them stupid. It would be better to say, that it's an interesting question but in order to answer that you need to explain the basics first, because the philosophy behind what we believe will not make the blind bit of sense to anyone if you don't first lay the foundations. There is a time and place for addressing these issues but if you don't feel confident that you can do it with a focus on grace and love and without coming across as condemning or judgmental then don't feel like you have to answer these questions. Remember you are only one of many sources this person may have found for finding out more about our faith it is often a team effort that gets people to the point where they decide to consider inviting Jesus into their lives for themselves and this team effort can be spread through the persons life. Don't feel like you have to do everything, just do your part.
Mistake 5 - Being known by what we believe not who we are.
We as believer need to be known more for what we are for then what we are against. No one wants to listen to people that tell them that can't do this, that and the next thing. God is love, we are his Children so spread the love!
Above all else, remember you are a beacon and carry the light to the world in darkness, shine bright.
Take care & God bless