Christians have a problem – we have good news to share but speaking about it isn’t easy. If there was a spectrum between hell fire and brimstone street preaching and saying nothing at all, where would you put yourself?
I encourage you to have a spiritual conversation with someone this week in which you ask a specific question. The easy option is to have the conversation with another Christian who shares your beliefs. The harder option is to have the conversation with a non-Christian. The question to ask is, What do you mean by that? (You can learn more about this question in spiritual conversations in the book Tactics by Gregory Koukl). You can use this question in any conversation. Asking this question means the other person gets to speak, and clarify what they mean.
I began thinking about how we answer questions recently when we looked at how Jesus answered the difficult questions people asked him. I also attended a couple of seminars that considered hard questions people ask today. I began wondering how we respond when people ask us hard questions.
We can learn from Jesus? As a child Jesus was full of wisdom and he grew in wisdom (Luke 2.40,52). In Proverbs we are taught wisdom is supreme and encouraged to get wisdom. When we see Jesus interacting with people trying to trap him with difficult questions he answered with wisdom. They asked about tax, but he wisely stressed the need to give to God what is God’s. They asked a question thinking it would reveal the idea of resurrection was foolishness, but Jesus revealed their ignorance of God’s word and power. With his own wise question Jesus revealed their lack of understanding about the Messiah. They had (or thought they had) knowledge, but Jesus had something more, he had wisdom. If we are to answer people’s questions or speak about the gospel we need more than knowledge we need wisdom. When you look at Jesus’ ministry sometimes he answered questions and sometimes he asked them. If we are to share our faith we need wisdom to be able to answer questions and to ask them.
Questions are only difficult when you don’t know the answer. The people asking Jesus tricky questions thought they had him cornered, but to everyone’s amazement he answered them wisely. It is important to note, while Jesus gave them good answers, they were not convinced. So even if we give people reasonable answers they will not always find them convincing. Our responsibility is to give a good answer. Often for us, success is not convincing people, but simply engaging them in a conversation where they can hear about Jesus. How they respond is up to them.
Do people know it is safe to talk to you or ask you questions about faith? Can you be trusted if they open up to you with a question about faith? Do others think your faith is private and they don’t want to intrude with a question? Perhaps you have been so silent about your faith they don’t know you are a Christian and wouldn’t think to ask.
Can you do something to be more open about faith, not pushy, but to show willing to talk about faith if people ask?
When will you ask the question – What do you mean by that?
Rev John Malcolm