Tuesday, June 30, 2009

An Argument for Faith

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everything. Col 4:6

I sat next to a colleague of mine on the way to an educational meeting. We had not been well acquainted with each other but often passed on rounds early each morning. Somehow our conversation came around to faith and I discovered he was a Unitarian. Rather than praying for guidance and holding back my competitive nature, I began to debate with him the benefits of my faith over his. Unfortunately, he was a better debater than I. I became frustrated that I could not counter his arguments and became a bit short with him as he seemed to mock my inability to overcome his intellect. I finally gave up, saying, “I guess God will have to show you, himself.”
A Christian Doctor

Winning the Argument or Winning the Soul
As people who are usually “right” we may find it easy to enter a competitive mode, wanting to win the debate, even if we are not successful in persuading the other person. But in relation to someone’s soul, what have we gained if we “win”? What have we lost? While sowing the seeds of truth, we should remain motivated by love and guided by grace. Below are some examples of language that can either kill or encourage further discussion:

•“It is a proven fact that . . .”
•“There’s no question about it.”
•“Only fools believe . . .”
•“That’s ridiculous”
•“You are not serious, are you?”
•“If you believe that, you’re going to hell!”

What makes the gospel tasty:
•“I hear what you are saying, but that raises a concern for me.” (Respect)
•“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I see a conflict . . . .” (Sensitivity)
•“My perspective is a bit different. May I share it with you?” (Permission)
•“Have you considered this perspective?”
•“May I offer another opinion?”

As with other steps in this process, the key is to recognize when the Holy Spirit has prepared the heart of someone to be receptive. Pray regularly for God to give you this insight. Pray for him to soften hearts. Pray for God to link you to others who can help in the process.

Proceed slowly; checking to be sure the person understands the path you are following. You may need to regulate the dose. Recognize that an expression of doubt is often a good thing. It may reflect that the person is giving the matter serious consideration. Allow the process to proceed at a deliberate pace – not pushing. Let the expression of doubt lead to further discussion and inquiry. Offer to directly share what God means in your life.

When faced with someone who is resistant to our witness, it is helpful to remember that our success is not determined by whether someone responds by accepting Christ. Our success is measured by our faithful participation in the process. In God’s infinite wisdom, he gave mankind the choice to accept or resist his invitation. For we who are his children, God measures us by our obedience to effective witnessing, not the response of those to whom we witness.

Dear God,
I hold Your truth in a clay pot. I am not smart enough or charismatic enough to convince anyone to give their life to You. Let me study Your truth so that I can express it well, but let me depend on You to grab their hearts and change their lives. Amen

1 comment:

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