Sharing my faith with those who don't seem to be searching for more

(Shawn Suttle) #1

I have a few friends and even most of my family who hold various non Christian beliefs. Most are atheistic or Buddhist. How can I share Jesus to people who are not searching for more than what they believe. Especially since the very mention of the Name of Jesus Christ turns them hostile. I pray for them and opportunities to share with them, but it’s hard not pushing the issue because noone knows how long any of us really has on this side of eternity.

I appreciate your thoughts and advice.

(Kathleen) #2

Hi, @ssuttle1!
I am very encouraged by your heart for your family and friends and for your desire to share the good news of Jesus with them. :slight_smile:

I wonder if a good place to start would be to ask them questions about what they understand about the Christian faith? You could go on a sort of ‘listening tour’, where you just ask them questions and do not seek to defend or object to anything they say. (Unless they invite you to or ask you questions back.) You can get a variety of answers that way, and it gives you a chance to understand where they are coming from. (You may even be surprised at what you hear!) You may find that as you understand them more (and as they see that they are heard and understood by you), they will be more receptive to what you have to share with them.

(Billie Corbett) #3

I appreciate what you have said and there is great wisdom and truth in it.
I have sought to live out this approach with family and friends, for many years.

The challenge I am finding, is most have become hardened, embrazened, condescending and contemptuous… based on their views being superior to anything I would contribute, because I believe in an “archaic book (the bible) and am stupid enough to actually believe it”. Some are more polite in their shaming contempt…others are down right reactive to any attempt to on my part to have a conversation, (after years of listening to them!).

Personally, I am experiencing increased personal and cultural animosity toward anyone who embraces biblical Christianity.

What do you make of this scripture in relationship to this conversation?

Amos 5:10- 15

10: “They hate him who reproves in the gate and abhor him who speaks the truth.
11: Therefore because you trample on the poor and you exact taxes for grain from him, you have built houses of hewn stone, but shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but, shall not drink the wine.
12: I know how many are your transgressions and great are your sins, you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate.
13: Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time, for it is an evil time.
14: Seek good and not evil, that you may live, and so the Lord of hosts will be with you, as you have said.
15: Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate, it may be that the Lord of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.”

(Scott ) #4

Hi Shawn. I think Kathleen makes a good point.

Let me preface this by saying I read it on a sign at Jimmy Johns, but I think it’s important for everyone who may be contemplating evangelism (whatever they interpret that to mean) to think about. I don’t remember it word for word, but it was something like, “Of all the Christians I met who wanted to share their beliefs with me, none of them ever asked me to share my beliefs with them.” For people wanting to share their own faith, I think a good place to start would be showing genuine interest in the other person’s faith, or beliefs, or whatever they want to share about themselves. Active listening is hard work.

During my internship as a hospital chaplain, I listened to a Muslim man tell me his story for nearly two hours. He was struggling through devastating circumstances. He ended up bringing God and religion into the conversation on his own. Many people really just need someone who is willing to listen and show some emotional empathy. You may be surprised at the conversations that happen as a result.

(Shawn Suttle) #5

Thank you all for your responses! This is really great! Unfortunately, my relationship with my four siblings has been strained for quite some time. And I do not live very close to them, so we meet only a few times a year. The most “communication” I have with them is through Facebook and a few sporadic text messages. I guess that gives me more time to pray for them and for the wisdom and timing it is going to take to speak and listen when I do get the chance.

Thank you all! And please pray for openings and even the Jesus will send more ministers as well. All of my siblings, at at least one point in their life, have committed to follow Christ, but all of them have turned away to other beliefs.

(Kathleen) #6

@ssuttle1, I’m sorry to hear of your strained relationship with them, but will definitely pray for opportunities for you to speak with them. :slight_smile:

And, @Billie, thanks for the words of Amos 5. I do believe that there are times to speak and times to be silent. There doesn’t seem to be any real formula for when those times are, but I find that I have to entrust those sorts of calls to the Holy Spirit…and pray that I’ll be sensitive to His leadings! I am not surprised by animosity towards certain Christian truths (vrs. 10), but whenever I do actually experience animosity directed at me personally, I find it extremely valuable, as

  1. …I get the chance to ask the person directly why they are responding in such a way to me
  2. …I get the chance to reflect on my own motives and reactions and see where/if I have fed their the negative narrative that they’re playing in their head. It may even open up avenues for me to apologise and/or firmly stand my ground…both of which can be valuable.

What do you think it is about your ‘embracing’ of ‘biblical Christianity’ that makes people react so condescendingly or contemptuously? (I hope that question doesn’t come across as condescending! I use quotations merely because I wanted to use the phrase you used. :slight_smile: )

(Billie Corbett) #7

In answer to your points

  1. …I get the chance to ask the person directly why they are responding in such a way to me
  2. …I get the chance to reflect on my own motives and reactions and see where/if I have fed their the negative narrative that they’re playing in their head. It may even open up avenues for me to apologise and/or firmly stand my ground…both of which can be valuable.When it comes to trying to communicate with family, some of people have extremely broken, dysfunctional interpersonal relationships. I am one of those people.

I do believe to the best of my ability I have sought to address these points. No doubt there is yet a lot more the Lord wants me to grow in through these experiences. I do practice in the Lord, self reflection and self examination, which helps me see where I can make responsible adjustments and amends for my fallen humanity. Yet, sometimes this only seems to add fuel to the fire.

My family of origins is full of brokenness, suffering, addiction, mental illness…although naturally speaking (genetically) God has gifted a strong physicality, and intelligence. Childhood trauma has deeply damaged the development of the self and ability to functional relationally, for each person in my family of origins.

I am the only believer in my family of origins. (other than a cousin whom I am close to.)
I came to faith at 17 years old and have been a believer for almost 50 years. The first 20-30 years of my faith walk, God had much work to do…to establish me in His word and reality (outside of the extreme damage my early life experiences had created in me.) (Complex Traumatic Stress)
God had to renew my mind (and in that create new brain neuropathways to stabilize me, so I could live and function without extreme fear and terror of other people.
It’s pretty complicated, but, in my family the reasons for the condescension and contempt likely stems from the history of family pain and relational dysfunction.
Without Christ, people with traumatic histories tend to take a few routes in life, but, one thing is certain, they are always well defended against everything external.
In my family, there is strong natural creativity, intelligence, and resilience…so, family members have managed to “survive and function” at a high level even with poor mental health and/or addictions.
My family members have all developed powerful self protection and defence mechanisms. This has enabled them to survive the overwhelming emotional, mental, physical pain and neglect, which in turn has allowed them to make it to adulthood, without completely disintegrating.
The problem with these self protection and defence mechanisms is … over a long period of time, it creates within a survivor a sense of superiority, condescension, contempt and self righteous pride because they have survived (according to the wisdom of the flesh) and in their minds, they have overcome horrendous human obstacles in the power of their own might. In my case, added to this dynamic, my siblings have become extremely wealthy, sophisticated and elite…after being born into circumstances very humble means…(poverty). They are truly in their minds self made people! (They don’t see God’s grace in the natural gifts, strengths and abilities. They don’t know that their sibling has been praying for them throughout our adult lives, and so, in my mind, God gets all the glory for whatever they have managed to come through and overcome.)
At an early age, God in His grace saved me from a course of natural and eternal destruction. He saved me while in the midst of a complete mental/emotional collapse. I had no touchstone for reality…and so, my broken heart, mind and spirit…imploded in on itself.
God has recreated me in the image of His dear Son. For which I am temporally and eternally grateful. My inner life was like the torments of hell, and I came very close to murdering myself out of self laothing / self hatred.
So, based on God’s saving grace… I don’t take credit for what ever good is in my life. (All glory goes to God alone, who is worthy of all my praise.) This makes me weak and contempteous in my family’s eyes.
God has blessed me with spiritual riches in Christ Jesus. I have peace, contentment…I have meaningful, functional relationships with others. God has chosen to take my brokenness and use it to help others with it, which is why He allowed me to suffer so bitterly in the first place. This upsets my family…
I believe there may be jealousy or envy at the gifts God has given me because of His grace in me. I am not wise, or important by the world’s measure of value.
Abiding in Christ alone…is an uncomfortable contrast to unrestrained, godless materialism. My very presence (whether I like it or not) reflects God’s purposes for humankind, in contradiction to the standards of the world. I don’t have to say anything. Animosity manifests naturally when I don’t join in excesses…or when I choose not to trust in worldly wisdom or establish my own righteousness.
Maybe God is convicting their hearts? I don’t really know…All I know is, I am despised and rejected, because I won’t collude or support functioning relationally from a position outside of Christ’s revealled will and purposes. This creates a barrier, one I don’t desire. It would be absolutely wonderful to me to have real love, fellowship and communion with my family. I know we (my family) all long for that…but, the means of acheiving that longing…is worlds apart. God has created that separation … as Paul said, “Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is thwt they may be saved.” Roman 10:1. My heart before God is manifest in continual, steadfast prayer for my family. Even though, I am worthless to them, because of my weak humanity and my faith in Christ…I love them, and continue to seek their salvation, because Christ has loved me.
I hope this answers your question.

As to the Amos passage of scripture, to my understanding, God was addressing through the prophet, the rebellious godlessness of the Israelites. The context is one of widespread corruption, gross moral failure and abuse of power. While it may not apply to others experience, it does support to me in my present life experience.

(Kathleen) #8

Wow. Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your story with us! Praise God for His work in your own life, and we continue to pray with you for opportunities to speak peace into the painful wounds and relational brokenness of your family. Blessings, dear sister. Thank you so much for your contributions here. :slight_smile:

(Clyde Richard (Rick) Mayson) #9

You have already received some great techniques or strategies so I’ll just add my way of witnessing: First never argue! Second ask, listen, don’t interrupt! The HOLY SPIRIT convicts and draws and we are simply conduits so I always begin by praying for the individual to see the Light and make the decision to follow JESUS!!!
I ask the following questions !. “Do you have any spiritual beliefs?” I have had everything from NO to a Death Row inmate spend 2 hours telling me his 50 year journey in 5 different beliefs! Remember no argument! question 2. “Who is Jesus Christ to you?” Sit back and listen. Question 3. “Do you believe in Heaven or hell?” Regardless of their answers just move onto the next question. 4. “If you died today, where would you go?” Q.5. " I hope you live a long life, but we never know when our last day is, so let’s just pretend that you dropped dead this very minute and you stood before a holy God who said, “(their name) why should I let you into my Heaven?” What would your answer be? 99% of people respond with, “my good deeds outweigh my bad deeds!” Regardless of their answer the next question is KEY 6. “If what you believe was not true, would you want to know the truth?” If they say NO then you have obeyed GOD, planted a seed, and can simply say I honor your answer and If you ever want to know the truth just call me, or here is a tract, or here is my business card. And move on!!! If hey say YES then I take my Bible and turn to John 3:16. I have them read aloud the verse! Then I ask the question, “What does this say to you?” You want an internalization answer! I have actually had one man reread it 4 times before he said, “God loved ME so much that he gave his Son so that when I believe I will have eternal life.” I then go to Romans 5:8 same process, Romans 3:23, then Romans 3:10, Romans 6:23, John 1:12, Revelation 3:20 and Romans 10:13. If they go this far they are ready for the Commitment questions: 1. Are you a sinner? 2. Do you want forgiveness for your sins? 3. Do you believe that Jesus died on a cross for you and rose again? 4. Are you willing to surrender your life to Jesus Christ? 5. Are you ready to invite Jesus into you life and into your heart? If YES, then lead he or she in a prayer of acknowledgement, repentance, belief, dedication and choice to live for HIM!!! Another Saint for all eternity has been born into God’s family!!!
You have fulfilled the commandment of 1 Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

(Billie Corbett) #10

Hello Richard,

Thank you for your post.

Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

What I am curious about why the scripture says “ make a defence to anyone who asks you for the reason of the hope”.
This verse coveys people asking us?
The reason why I am highlighting this is:
I have come to a place in my life where I think I do people a disservice when I am eager to provide answers to questions, that are not being asked.
I have come to believe it hardens people’s hearts…which is the exact opposite of my hearts desire for them.

(Clyde Richard (Rick) Mayson) #11

Good question Billie, I put 1Peter 3:15 to emphasize that we must be ready with a plan to guide a lost person to a conclusion NOT to just sit back and wait for a lost person to ask to be saved! We are Commanded by our Lord to be witnesses to a lost and dying world. See the last chapters of Matthew, Mark, Luke and Acts 1:8 l