- Winning builds barriers. Learning creates opportunities.
- Winning makes enemies. Learning makes friends.
- Winning creates losers. Learning gives us influence.
It’s always better, for ourselves and for the sake of the gospel, to take the hard path of creating long-term opportunities to make friends that we can influence, than to build short-term barriers that create winners, losers and enemies.
4. Respond with grace, not anger
If you look under the surface of an angry person, you’ll find a hurting person.
When we respond to anger with anger, we’re actually responding to pain with more pain.
Grace is different. Grace heals.
And grace will draw more people to repentance than anger ever will.
5. Get to know your Bible better
Christians need to approach the Bible like Christians. Of course.
But we often have little, if any, understanding of how most non-believers approach the Bible.
Stories that seem normal to us are strange to them. Commandments we take for granted are confusing for them. Questions we don’t even see any more are huge issues for them.
Don’t run from the hard passages of scripture. Acknowledge, explore and embrace them. Know them well enough to be able engage in conversation with others about them.
6. Become more familiar with paradox
The Bible is filled with paradox.
When nonbelievers and new believers ask questions about these issues, they’re not being rebellious or cynical. They’re genuinely concerned – as they ought to be.
We can’t be dismissive of their questions or arrogant in our responses if we hope to have any influence in their lives.
It’s important to engage in conversation with about the real issues they raise and, when necessary, live with the tension of unanswered questions.
7. Walk in integrity, humility and repentance
Some of the paradoxes and contradictions that non-believers have the hardest time with are not in the Bible, they’re in the lives of Christians.
Everyone lives in some ways that are contradictory to what we say we believe. So we need to strive to live with integrity, speak with humility and offer true repentance when we’ve sinned. Not just to God but to the people who have been hurt.
“I’m sorry, I was wrong, I’ll try to do better next time” may be the greatest testimony some people will ever hear from us.
Finally, be prepared with gentleness and respect
As believers (and especially as church leaders) we need to be ready to listen to the concerns of people who seem to be living contradictory lives.
Thankfully, this is something the scriptures have prepared us for.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15 – NIV)
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