The question for us today is how can we transform existing relationships into redemptive relationships? We are focusing here on relationships we already have with people we already know. We recognise that, as God has changed us, God can also change our friends. This alters how we see people. As Paul says … from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. (2 Corinthians 5:16) Now we begin to see people as God sees them from a kingdom point of view.
How do we communicate our faith as the attractive aroma of Jesus Christ? We can do this by creating crossroad moments through meaningful conversations. A crossroad moment is to create a moment of choice or decision. Jesus was a master of creating crossroad moments in his conversations. We can look at his conversation with the woman at the well - drawing her into a conversation, asking questions, making provocative statements, putting down a challenge and responding to her issues. He showed an interest in her, listened to what she had to say, gave good answers to her questions and made her re-evaluate her spiritual point of view. Jesus’ conversations are a model for us to …“Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.” (Colossians 4:6)
A helpful way to bring spiritual moments into our conversations is to:
- Ask questions to help people explore faith. As Gregory Koukl suggests, we could ask, What do you mean by that? This non-threatening question invites them to consider the meaning behind what they have said.
- Inquire rather than disagree. We resist the urge to immediately jump in to tell them where they are wrong and instead ask further questions to help give us insights into what they are thinking and the problems that might be barriers to belief.
- Converse rather than confront. Our aim is not to put people down, not to cut them out, but to bring out the best in them through a conversation. If we truly love people, then we will take a genuine interest in them and respect their views even if we don’t agree with them.
These questioning conversations build relational bridges for the gospel; crossroads moments where they may decide to cross over and view the landscape of the Kingdom of God where they may see things in a new light. They may linger there with the new idea taking in the view of the kingdom or go back across the bridge to their normal pattern of thought, but even a brief moment with a spiritual idea can sow seeds of change.
Consider how you could listen to your friends and ask appropriate questions to create a crossroads moment for them.
Try this, even once this week, and then see how the conversation develops.
Rev John Malcolm