I am privileged to be good friends with missionaries in Nepal. I love hearing about their work reaching unreached people groups. Previous to their work there, however, they served in Bangladesh which is a predominantly Muslim country. My friend shared in our church about an experience sharing Christ with a Muslim man. As he was sharing, the man got more and more angry. Finally, my friend kindly and calmly said, “I do not mean to anger you. I’m not trying to take anything away from you. I’m trying to give you something.” This statement seemed to calm him down, but the conversation was soon over. Walking away feeling frustrated, my friend left only to notice he was being followed. He started to get scared because acts of violence against Christians were not uncommon. Suddenly a man grabbed him. The man then quickly said, ” I’m not going to hurt you. I heard your conversation with that man and I want to hear more.” If I remember correctly, this man later became a believer.
That story really hit me when he shared it–especially the line about not taking away but giving. It made me think about how I truly see the gospel. If I truly saw it as a gift, wouldn’t I be more eager to share it? And, truly, the gospel has been the best and most valuable gift I’ve ever received, and it’s about time I acted like it.
Many of us feel unprepared to share God’s Truth with any degree of competence and we often quote this as a reason to not engage. But we have been told that we have a responsibility to be prepared.
“But sanctify The Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” 1 Peter 3:15
The verse makes clear a few important points:
1) we are always to be ready
2) we are to live our lives in such a way that our hope in God is evident (so much so that people ask us why we have hope)
3) we must do it in a meek and reverent manner (not being rude, angry, or impatient and truly valuing the person to whom we are talking and where they are in their journey in that moment)
Proverbs 15:28a says, “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer…” In order to be effective witnesses, we need to be prepared to answer questions. Now I believe firmly that there are times when people ask questions not because they want to hear answers, but in order to ridicule and embarrass, and, in many of these cases, I believe it’s better to not answer (Jesus did not always engage the mockery of others–sometimes His silence was answer enough). But many people ask valid questions that we must have an answer; we must think and think deeply. We must make the answers our answers and not merely parroting the deep thoughts of others.
And, most importantly, we need to pray that God gives us the wisdom to understand what needs to be understood. Let’s not use our fear to keep us from having meaningful conversations with the people God brings across our path. Study God’s Word in depth, ask the hard questions and grapple with them before God, read the works of others who have thought deeply and think about their words (I’ve added a couple of my favorites in my Books I Love page). We have a wonderful message of hope and meaning and purpose! When you have made that message your own, you will be excited to share that with others!