In our conversations, it’s easy to get frustrated, even irritated, when our non-Christian friends don’t “get it.” But, we need to remember what Paul says, “The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him and he is not able to understand them” (1 Cor 2:14).
OK, so conversations with non-Christians aren’t what they used to be. In years gone by, it seems you could just disagree with someone and everyone was fine with that. You could just shake hands and move on.
But now, in our tense cultural situation, disagreement is regarded as a personal attack. To disagree with someone is to be hateful and unloving toward them.
This is why it can sometime seems like conversations with non-Christians can quickly escalate to DEFCON 1. Before you know it, somehow it’s nuclear war.
As a result, I think Christians have struggled with how to talk with non-Christians in our current culture. Some have decided the conversations are just not worth it. Any hint at a disagreement causes some believers to tuck tail and run.
Other Christians take the opposite approach. They figure if a good fight is what someone wants, then by golly we’ll give them one. So, some Christians enter every conversation with both guns out of the holster, ready for a showdown.
Needless to say, neither extreme is healthy for the church. So, here are a few tips/reminders to consider in your conversations. There’s nothing particularly earth-shattering here, but hopefully keeping these things in mind can help:
1. It’s not arrogant to think you can know things about God.
One thing I’ve noticed over the years, is that Christians are very wary of being labelled dogmatic or arrogant. Our culture bristles at any claims of certain knowledge, insisting that such claims constitute intellectual hubris. As a result, Christians often shy away from claiming they know anything for sure.
But, lurking behind the charge that Christians are arrogant is a certain assumption about the way religion works. Many non-Christians view “religion” as merely human attempts to discover and learn things about God. Religion is simply the fallible act of humans trying to figure out the divine. Now, on that definition of religion, the Christian claim would indeed be arrogant!
The problem, of course, is that this is not how Christian’s understand their own religion. We don’t believe our knowledge comes from our efforts to figure out God, but rather is the result of God graciously revealing himself to us. For Christianity, religion is not about man finding God, but about God showing himself to man. It is about God seeking out lost sinners and opening their eyes to the truth. That is the opposite of an arrogant claim.