Last week I had the opportunity to speak to two of my neighbors about Christ.
One is a self-proclaimed skeptic, who, when I asked if he minded specifying what he is skeptical about, he said “Just the believability of it all.”
The second neighbor has a great appreciation for Christianity, but then again, he has a great appreciation for all the world’s religions, from Islam to Judaism. He is also quite proud of his community service and took the time to list much of what he does to help his neighbors.
Both were great conversations and left room for more to come should they desire to hear it from me. In each case, though, my aim was to get to Christ; to get them to the heart of the gospel that saves. Here’s what happened in short. Maybe it will encourage you.
Knowing that I’m no great apologist, I simply told my skeptical neighbor that his opinion that the Bible’s stories are unbelievable does not mean they aren’t true. He agreed with the logic. He said, “It just seems like something man would make up.” I went on to explain how the Bible paints a more honest picture of humanity than any other book ever would or could. It pegs men as evil and sinful and in need of a Savior. That was my open door to speak of Christ. So I took about 30 seconds to take him from Genesis and the fall to Christ and the cross. Nothing too elaborate. Just the simple Gospel. I also wanted him to see that despite his skepticism, I, for one, am grateful that Jesus died to save a sinner like me. Did he get it? Time will tell.
My other neighbor has served in several wars and at 78 years old has far more life experience than me. I wasn’t about to try to out-wit him. I could tell he was a story teller. So I probed about dates and details of one particular war. He went on to mention one particular war where he had several Muslim men under his command, and there, learned of their hospitality and kindness. Having compared the Koran and the Bible “side by side”, and knowing the periods of Christian history that cast a shadow of sorts upon the Church, he was convinced that there is no real difference between Christianity and Islam. Both have elements of good and bad. I agreed to that. He did admit one “small” difference; that Muslim’s believe Jesus was a prophet but not the Son of God. AND BINGO! That was my open door. I went on to explain how that one “small” difference is actually the only one that matters; the only one I was concerned about and the one thing that separates Christianity from all the rest. I was able to speak of the empty tomb of Christ and that his resurrection validates Him as exactly who He proclaimed to be, “the Son of God.” He gladly listened to what I had to say because I had gladly listened to him. Did he get it? Time will tell.
This morning I opened the Scriptures. “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
I share all this to encourage you that as God opens doors for you to speak to unbelievers about Him, do so in such a way as to demonstrate the wisdom and power of Christ, not your own. Whether your hearer is a skeptic, a religious zealot or even your enemy, one thing is certain; he or she is most definitely a sinner. Your feelings of weakness and inadequacy is more useful than you might think. Fear and trembling at the thought of speaking for Jesus knowing that you have no power on your own to save a soul, let alone, plausible words, is normal too. Make your determination now to know nothing among them except Christ and Him crucified. Bring them to Jesus and to the truth of the cross. Let the Spirit demonstrate His power through your weakness and in His timing.
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