Christians have all been advised (via books, pulpits, counseling sessions, etc.) to make an effort to try to find a point of mutual agreement with non-Christians before making the case for Christianity. This advice pertains as well when discussing matters of faith and morals with fellow Christians who disagree with the Church. Many experts suggest that we listen rather than react (passionately) when confronted by those disagreeing with us or are more likely to disagree with us. We are also advised to ask questions of others rather than make bold statements about our own beliefs in an attempt to build trust and friendship. Does this work? Perhaps on a one-to-one basis, but recent conversion numbers aren’t very convincing.
Consider Colossians 2:8 which states: “See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy.” What if today’s cautionary suggestions for finding a point of mutual agreement before engaging souls in discussions about right and wrong; or God and Heaven is also an empty, seductive philosophy? Sometimes it seems that our desire (and comfort zone) to tread lightly with regard to matters of faith and morals stems more from personal fear or lack of conviction of the need to give right witness than having the virtues of prudence or fortitude. Maybe our natural reticence to speak openly and forthrightly about our faith actually stems from our inability to articulate what we truly believe? Because we don’t exactly know what we believe? Are Christians genuinely holding back for the right reasons when we say we love God — but say it only to ourselves? Does timidity convert anyone?
People are naturally attracted to charismatic and passionate people — right? Politicians prove that as voters tend to support the energetic, engaging politician rather than the cranky, boring statesman — with a few exceptions. That should teach us something about the need to be bold. To be charismatic. To be engaging even in personal situations.
Reflect on the fact that Jesus never tread lightly when it came to matters of faith, social customs, and moral matters. Of course, He always knew what to say and how to say it most perfectly, but He didn’t seem to craft his words in ways that made friends first and built trust before convincing them of the truth. At a minimum, His approach was anything but comforting and consoling to those who resisted the message. Should His approach be ours? For sure the leaders of the Church should match this approach. But what about us — his disciples and witnesses? For sure the twelve apostles and scores of disciples offended people left and right! They didn’t worry about coming across as too offensive, strong or bold. And it can be argued that in the end they paid for their lack of indiscretion! Yet their boldness is what helped put the world on fire for Christ at a time when it was most needed. They helped bring about an explosion of Faith that is unprecedented today. What is the lesson here for us?
First, we have to be confident in our faith. We have to keep learning about our faith so that we can articulate what we believe. We have to pray before speaking! We have to be convinced that faith and morals are worth it. And then sometimes we have to admit when we botched it here and there and learn from those experiences. And when it seems least likely, our words and actions may make the difference in someone’s life. Consider that we may the only one who is needed to bring another person back to the Christ who loves and wants to heal him/her. But it takes our witness to speak to the truth. To speak to who God is. To speak about the only authentic creator of the climate, the planets, the constellations, and the beautiful creation. To speak about the Creator of the laws of nature, Physics, Chemistry and all science. To speak about the authentic creator of Life.
So what’s my point? Let’s pray that we have the courage to become authentic, bold bearers of Good News to friends and family. Strive to be charismatic and energetic when describing God’s Love and your Love of God: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Don’t be shy. Don’t be afraid. Don’t make excuses when given opportunities to make a difference. Don’t wait. Today is the day for each of us to make a difference in the life of someone.
Questions to consider
- Have you recently experienced a moment in which you felt the need to speak the truth and didn’t know how to? What did you do?
- Have you recently experienced a moment in which you did speak out in faith and were rejected? How did that make you feel? What did you learn from that ?
- Do you pray for conversions of those people we love who lack faith?
Copyright 2019 Linda Kracht