I know some Christians who tend to see non-Christians as godless enemies, rather than viewing them as “sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36), desperately in need of a Savior.
While we need to be wary of the world’s influence, we’re still on a rescue mission to save as many souls as possible. For this reason, we need to diligently build relationships with non-Christians in an effort to win them to Christ.
In fact, I want to be so compassionate that, like Jesus, I am accused being “a friend of tax-collectors and sinners.” (Luke 7:34).
Effectively sharing your faith with others – in an effort to baptize and disciple them (cf. Matt. 28:19-20) – starts with your attitude. If you see unbelievers as enemies, you’re not going to do a good job talking to them about Christ. You’ll probably come across as a condescending know-it-all, and they won’t think of you as a friend. On the other hand, if you see unbelievers as souls, you will be much more effective as you carry out the Lord’s mission (cf. Luke 19:10)
Consider four (4) simple suggestions to remember next time you want to share your faith with others:
1. Meet them where they are. Don’t start in the middle.
It isn’t uncommon to get into a discussion about a religious/moral topic with a friend, coworker, or client. The discussion might go something like this:
Unbeliever: “You attend church regularly, right? Does that mean you’re anti-homosexual?”
Christian: “Well, I’m against homosexuality. But I love everyone!”
Unbeliever: “I don’t see how you can be against homosexuality and say you love everyone.”
Christian: “No, it’s not like that. I think homosexuality is wrong, but….”
See what happened? The Christian is suddenly on the defensive because he started in the middle. He didn’t consider that the unbeliever might not know anything about Jesus, God’s plan concerning sexuality, or have even an adequate concept of sin. A better response would have been to say something like, “God loves everyone, and I love everyone. I’m not the Judge, God is. I just believe what the Bible says,” and then perhaps focus on the Cross of Jesus and the meaning of discipleship.
Here’s another example:
Unbeliever: “You’re Church of Christ, right? Aren’t you the people who don’t believe in music?”
Christian: “We believe in music, just not mechanical instruments in worship. We just sing.”
Unbeliever: “But King David talked about worshiping God with harps and tambourines in the Old Testament.”
Christian: “Yes, but we aren’t under the Old Testament law.”
Unbeliever: “The Church of Christ doesn’t believe in the Old Testament?”
Christian: “No, we do! But, it’s just that…”
Again, the Christian is digging himself deeper and deeper. Whatever misconceptions the unbeliever had about the Lord’s Church have only been enlarged. The Christian started in the middle, even though the unbeliever really needed to hear about God’s authority, the principle of silence, and how to view the old and new covenants. A better response would have been, “No, of course we believe in music! We try to worship exactly how God asked us to worship, and we think the best example for us to follow is the 1st century church as found in the Bible.” The Christian could have then talked about the ideal of restoring simple 1st century, New Testament Christianity.
In both of these examples, the Christian should have attempted to explain foundational principles to the unbeliever, instead of getting in too deep.
2. Don’t throw too many Scriptures at them.
Those of us who have grown up in the Church know the value of backing everything up with Scripture. This is the beauty of Restoration Theology, after all. We want to be as Biblical as possible.
Yet, because unbelievers probably don’t know much about the Bible (or understand its Divine nature), they are not only overwhelmed when you cite more than two or three Scriptures, but they also lose interest.
Typically, unbelievers do not recognize – at least to the full extent – the inspiration of the Bible, so referencing Scripture offers little benefit.
If possible, try to mention no more than two or three verses, unless you’re talking to someone who already deeply respects God’s Word.
3. Don’t have an ‘I’ll-show-you-where-you’re-wrong’ attitude.
Don’t get me wrong – one of the reasons for sharing your faith is to teach people the difference between truth and error.
But if your primary goal is to point out error, you will come off as being negative or cynical and the discussion may turn into an argument or a debate.
Instead of searching for what is wrong, focus on what is right, while emphasizing that God doesn’t approve of anything outside of His Will. After establishing what is right, you will be in a better position to point out error in the future.
4. Let them talk.
One of the most important parts of sharing your faith with others is listening. You may actually learn something, and the more you listen, the better you’ll understand where they are in their understanding of God and His Will.
Question: Do you have any suggestions or insight on how to share your faith with non-Christians?