Some days I desperately wish I was Paul, or C.S. Lewis, or somebody who had a lot of wisdom of who God is, and why He matters. Lately, I have been immensely challenged in personal evangelism, which, in non-Christian language, means telling people around me why I live the way I do, what I believe, and why it matters. I’ve been thinking about the many different ways to approach this area that happens to be a personal weak point for me, and an alarming absence in many believers today.
First off, people are different. Something that is appealing or “makes sense” to one person will not necessarily suffice for another. I’ve tried the logical approach, which usually gets the person thinking, but I’m afraid that although I love studying apologetics, my mind isn’t quite as… clinical, or scientific as my friends who excel in this area.
I’ve tried just sharing what has gone on in my life, and how I started actually searching for the seemingly distant God of my childhood, the One I blindly trusted who has by His grace led me to a stronger faith today. People love personal stories because they can try and relate to them in order to fit them into their perception of the world. A lot of the time the response is “That’s great for you, but…” or “that’s a really nice thing to do,” as if personal faith is an ice cream preference or a nice bit of volunteering on Sunday to make you a better person. People see the value of good character, but don’t bother to see where good character comes from. The Bible is not taken credibly anymore. Just today I had a co-worker tell me he thought the Bible was full of stories that explained things before science was around to do the job. I’ve explained before that the Bible is actually taken credibly as a reliable historical source, or that for an outdated book it sure has some good ideas about human nature, but people are convinced that science holds the answer and evolution is law, not theory. I’ve noted that science cannot dismiss the possibility of intelligent design without going against its own definition, citing the film “Expelled” as an interesting alternative to say the least, but it makes no difference. People like to tell me that what I believe may be true for me but not for them even after I ask them if they believe in absolute truth (ex. “so if morals are relative, it may be right for me to kill someone, but not for you? Isn’t it always wrong to murder someone? Why do we think that?). See, here’s the thing: you can argue all you want for your opinion, which you’re entitled to have, but you can’t change truth. It exists regardless of whether you choose to accept it.
Currently, I’m also exploring the many many books that claim to explain Christ, Christianity, and why you aren’t yet successful in life (please note slight humor on the last one). There’s a lot of people out there impacted by Christianity. There’s a lot of books telling how or why or what, but as some non-believing friends note, don’t all religions have people who believe theirs is the only true one? The answer is yes, but they all died and Christianity is the only religion that doesn’t say do _____, get _______. It says accept that you can’t live life perfectly on your own- you need something (really someOne). Again, you can’t change truth. Anyway, there’s all these books, but even as a bookworm, I’m a little revolted by the Christian living section of bookstores. I don’t know why we need all these when we have God’s WORDS in one book. Perfect.
Yet none of these approaches mean anything, unless it is first evident that you live differently than most people. I feel that if we, as Christians, are striving to live like Jesus- selflessly loving others and telling them the truth because it matters for eternity- it should be absolutely apparent in who we are. No, not perfect, but I have been shocked that even when I most feel like a failure, people still tell me that they admire this or that about me… except I know it’s not me. And I tell them that.
This summer has been a great experience for me because I’m out of my comfort zone, surrounded by people who aren’t living for the same things. It really puts things into perspective and makes me all the more glad that God provided the job in the first place, and that I could be there! People really do notice. I knew some did, but never like this. And when it comes down to actually talking about why I have hope and joy, sadly a lot of people are shocked because they’ve never heard anything like this. Either they can’t believe that I want to listen to their beliefs even if they don’t match mine, or they are shocked when I tell them that if it weren’t so important I wouldn’t be talking to them. Really.
It makes me unbelievably sad to think that people are missing out on the big picture of life, of what their life could be, of what life is all about and are instead having a tough time because there are Christians out there not willing to love on people unconditionally and tell them what’s going down eventually.
I am by no means an expert evangelist. I actually really feel under-qualified. Yet, I am humbly reminded that God works through us and our weaknesses to show His love to everyone.