Sharing with Gentleness and Respect

There are two things that we are told never to talk about: religion and politics. Many people follow this common adage and avoid any discussion about religion. According to a recent Pew Research survey, it is nearly evenly split between those who Never or Seldom discuss religion with those outside their family and those who do so Several times a year or more. This adage often prevents Christians from speaking about their faith, but does this fit with what Scripture teaches or is it an example of the world’s wisdom?

What does the Bible tell us about speaking to others about religion?

The Bible is not silent on this issue, we don’t have to search far to see commands and encouragement to speak up about our faith. Mark 16:15 tells us to preach the gospel to all creation. Psalm 96 tells us to proclaim the good news of salvation and to tell everyone about the amazing things He does. In all of this, Jesus himself tells us that He will be with us to the very end of the age (Matt 28:20).

Often, we don’t speak to others about our faith because we fear it will deteriorate into an argument, or we won’t know what to say. None of us has answers to every question that arises, but we cannot let fear prevent us from telling others of the life-saving and transforming grace that God gave as a gift to those he loves. God encourages us to be strong and courageous (Deut 31:6) and to put away our fear and spirit of timidity (2 Tim 1:7-8). He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us in our weakness (Rom 8:26) and to remind us of everything that He has taught us in scripture (John 14:26). Paul was imprisoned, stoned, beaten, and many other things, yet he spoke boldly and did not fear because he had faith that God would be true to his promise to take care of him.

We live in a country with religious freedoms. Despite the cultural perception that we should avoid discussion on religion. I have found through experience that most are willing and even anxious to talk about spiritual things. For some it is out of curiosity due to the cultural silence, for others it is their own pride in sharing their own wisdom of what they believe and why. If you ask a question, most will engage in discussion.

While we share our faith in public we must always portray a professional and respectful attitude. Our presence should reflect the glorious grace of Christ whom we point others to. In 1 Peter 3:15 Peter tells us, “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.” If we break this down we find four things that it teaches us:

  1. First, we do this all to honor Christ! It is not to show off what we know or how well we argue or persuade others, but to honor and glorify Christ in all things. We honor Christ by pointing to Him, by obeying His commands, and by telling of His works. It is about Christ, not us.
  2. Be prepared. We should think through the gospel and how to communicate and to seek the opportunity to share that when given. We should prepare our minds and our hearts for this purpose, He has made us fishers of men (Matthew 4:19).
  3. Give a reasoned defense of the hope that He has given you. Just as Paul and the other apostles reasoned with others in the synagogues and the marketplace. The Christian faith is built upon God interacting with His people and upon Christ, God’s son, intruding in the real world in real history. The Christian faith is a reasonable faith and is founded on solid ground.
  4. We boldly proclaim this faith with gentleness and respect. The world seeks to paint the picture of Christians as unreasonable and full of hate or hypocrisy. Our conversations and reasoning should be filled with respect. We must demonstrate a listening attitude and a patient explanation of answers to the unbeliever’s questions. Paul tells us that while we are not perfect, we must live above reproach and to be well thought of by outsiders so that we will not fall into disgrace (1 Timothy 3:1-7).

When we are faithful to the responsibility that Christ gave us to make disciples and bear witness to Christ, God sees us as faithful. In 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” It is not up to us to convince the unbeliever. If we think it is up to us alone to persuade, we grow in our angst trying to coerce others into faith. We are reminded that the cross is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to the Gentile. John Stott said, “To evangelize does not mean to win converts… but simply to announce the good news, irrespective of the results.”

We must come to this task and duty with humility and a desire to see others find the Lord.

Additional Learning

Prayer

Please pray that God will prepare us as disciples to tell of His glorious works and to point others to Christ’s redemption.

Author: Jon Neifert
Posted on January 22 2017
Jesus Christ did not come into this world to make bad people good; He came into this world to make dead people LIVE.
Lee Strobel