We sometimes forget that we are just followers of one who called himself the Truth, we are not owners of the truth
What do we say to people who have very different beliefs than ours? How do we answer questions from the sceptic, the agnostic and the atheist?
Jesus gave us an example – he invited people to hang out with him, to see where he spent the night, to follow him around and listen to what he had to say. The disciples did this and they learned – very slowly, sometimes making mistakes, often failing to understand. And they invited others to ‘come and see’ as well.
This is a great model for us, and one that students in InterVarsity/USA are using. We heard from staff worker Daniel Denk about a conference where he helped lead a track for seekers. About 40 not-yet-Christians attended this track, a third of them international students.
He writes: ‘You may wonder why non-Christians would come to an InterVarsity conference. It is because they have been befriended and invited by Christian students.
‘I presented a session on "designed for good; damaged by evil" that focused on the creation and fall in Genesis 1-3. This was followed by a session on the cross of Christ. Several students came to faith in Christ that weekend. Others are being followed up back on campus.
‘There were some American sceptics, agnostics and a Buddhist. There was also a student whose father was a bishop of an African American church. This son was obviously disillusioned and said to me, "But I don't care about any of that anymore."
‘During a panel discussion, one question that came up (and always does) is "Why do Christians believe that their religion is the only way?" My response was this: "Christians sometimes give the wrong impression. We are not saying (or we shouldn't be) that my religion is better than your religion, or my club is better than your club, or my church is better than your church. We are simply saying that Jesus claimed to be the way to God. We have become his followers and have come to believe this is true. We invite you to come and see.”
‘This answer seemed to diffuse the tension around the question and the agnostic and Buddhist both mentioned to me afterward that they really appreciated that response.
‘If we can avoid talking like we know all the truth, or presenting it in a dogmatic, aggressive manner, people are more likely to listen.
‘We sometimes forget that we are just followers of one who called himself the Truth, we are not owners of the truth.’
Let’s go into this new year with humility – recognising that, like the first disciples of Jesus, there is a lot that we still don’t understand, that now we see only a poor reflection, we know only in part (1 Corinthians 13:12). Let’s invite people to come and see Jesus in our attitudes and actions as well as in God’s word.