Anti-Semitism and evangelism

Hi,

How do you begin to share the Gospel with someone who is Anti-Semitic? Where do you begin?

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@MaryG Great question :slight_smile: I think you would begin as you do with any relationship, by getting to know the individual and establishing trust. I’ve been reading the book I Once Was Lost and really enjoying it. It provides an overview of how thousands of people have found Jesus and the similar themes in their stories. Of course, everyone’s story is different, but I find it very helpful.

I think rather than seeing this person chiefly as anti-semitic, you have to begin by seeing them as a person. Get to know their story (if they are open to sharing). Invite them into your world to meet other Christians and experience the love of Christ. And once those barriers are down and they express interest in the Word, you can explain that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek - we are all one in God’s family. We are all made in God’s image and of equal worth.

May Christ bless you as you share His love and truth :slight_smile:

  • they trusted a Christian
  • they became curious
  • they became open to change
  • they started seeking
  • they became a follower of Jesus

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But it’s one thing to accept fellowship with Christians and enjoy their company, and quite another to accept that it was a Jew who died to save them and that Christians are therefore in-grafted into the House Israel and are adopted children of Abraham. That is usually the barrier I face when talking to people who are Anti-Semitic as well as their belief that the Bible was written as part of some sort of “Jewish Agenda” for world domination.

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@MaryG Are the people you talk with open to studying these issues together with you? If they are, I think it would be helpful to understand their arguments and then create a response to each one (if someone has not already done this…) Then discuss your responses with them and go from there…

Hi @MaryG,

Thanks for opening your experience and situation up to insight from the Connect community! I think @SeanO has offered real wisdom here:

But I know from experience that it can be difficult to know how to do that relationship-building when there is an elephant in the room (in this case, fundamentally different views on a people-group and the implications of this disagreement). What I have to share here is just my own experience—a kind of practical insight—that I hope can help.

Personally, I am not much of a small-talker so my engagements with people tend to be lengthy and intense conversations which plunge straight into the deep end: points of serious difference included. Because of this way of engaging, I used to not know how to continue getting to know someone who was unwilling to engage constructively on our points of disagreement. We needed more relationship to have the mutual trust for these conversations…but I didn’t know or see the value other ways of building the relationship— they seemed “shallow” and I couldn’t see how they could contribute. So I was stuck.

Then I had a friend who was a member of cult and we were both fervent in our devotion to our differing faiths. We appeared to be in an unremitting stalemate: so what relationship was there to build? I started to look for common ground and to choose to invest in even those “shallow” things. We liked the same kooky old movies. So we talked about that. We both loved the beach. So we went and tanned together. We loved coffee. We got on the same shifts at the cafe we worked at. We were both broke. We invited each other over for cheap dinners. We had less of what I thought were the important conversations. I felt like an evangelist/ Christian/ apologetist fail. As you have said,

But then I realized that people’s openness to Christ is a journey, and I don’t know what part of their journey I am sidling up to. Or to switch metaphors, not everyone was “ready to harvest”—sometimes planting, weeding, or digging were called for. That is, not everyone was on the brink of conversion (though I believe we ought to be ready and bold to go there!) but that some people needed their ideas about Christians changed before they could even consider Christ. I have come to call it “the ministry of problematizing stereotypes.” When someone has known a genuine and loving Christian, it is much harder to dismiss Christianity, to pass it off as inauthentic, hypocritical, etc.

Knowing I could not change my friend’s heart or mind, I chose to enjoy who she was as a unique creation of God and to help / serve/ pray for her. To my surprise, I discovered that through time, presence, and drawing on even small commonalities I had gotten to know her / her story in a much broader way. It was a way that gave me insight into what she loved, hoped for, and was broken over. And because of the relationship platform we’d built, when we did come around to those important conversations, we had deeper mutual trust and respect which allowed us to engage more productively. I wish I could tell you she put her faith in Christ at the time—she didn’t. But her dismissal of Christian faith as uncritical and hypocritical was seriously problematized by a having a front-row seat (and back-stage pass) to the life of a thoughtful and committed Christ-follower. Over a decade later, I still pray for her.

Do you think that focusing on building out your relationship with your friend in other areas of life might provide you with insight and trust/relational traction to engage on issues of faith down the road? If you put the serious issue of anti-semitism to the side, what other ways possibilities might this open up for different approaches, conversations, and kinds of participate in this friend’s life?

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