It is important to remember that they probably know very little indeed about the life and work of the Lord Jesus
What Can You Tell Your Neighbors?
Just what is happening in our society? What has caused the disintegration of familiar social structures and attitudes? Why are ethical somersaults making wrong right, and right wrong? The Judaeo-Christian tradition, which shaped the Western culture over the past centuries, is now marginalized.
It is we who disapprove of homosexuality, abortion, and euthanasia who are seen as “uncaring” and “harsh.” Tolerance and empowerment are the attitudes and actions which characterize the new thinking. Nothing is right or wrong any more, but intolerance is not politically correct.
Christians are often bewildered as they discover they have no points of contact with their neighbors. “It is hard to witness to people who believe truth is relative,” says G. E. Veith in his Guide to Contemporary Culture.
In the new, post-modern way of thinking, students in almost all universities are being taught by academics who believe that truth is merely a construction of language, and that language means only what society agrees that it means.
Seemingly, history cannot be objectively known; we can only have a collection of perceptions, expressed from culturally biased viewpoints.
The rot goes further! It is imperative, according to this way of thinking, that we should accept the validity of someone else’s world view; if they express what they see to be the truth, we must accept it. Consequently, Christians may find a tolerant acceptance of their viewpoint, but only as their “opinion.” But if we claim God really exists, that He has stepped into His world in Jesus, or that He requires us to be sorry for our sinful rebellion, then our viewpoint is seen as having a subtext of oppression because we are saying that other views are wrong.
This new thinking has now also found its way into much of the cultural diet of school children. The denial of absolute values – such as right and wrong, good and evil – has found practical expression in films, television, art, literature and humanities.
How then can we tell our neighbors the gospel? Clearly we have to use language that they understand. We need to ensure that we tell the message in actions as well as words. We must see to it that what we say makes sense to our neighbors. It is important to remember that they probably know very little indeed about the life and work of Jesus Christ – they may not even know that He really did live among His people.
Even those who regard Jesus as a good man will know little of what He did and said, and why. They will have been told over and over again that the Bible is a mere collection of myths, and they probably know only as much of the Bible as you know of Shakespeare.
The apostle Peter wrote, “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 Pet. 3:15 NIV).
Can we explain our faith in a language understood by our neighbor or friend? We must be sure to be biblical in what we say, yet our “reasons” will be meaningless unless we set about using the language that the hearer is used to hearing.
But it is urgent that we, who know God’s mercy, share our faith with those around us. At least we should obey the Lord’s commandment, and at best it must be our desire to show His love to those who are alien to His way. Remember, with the knowledge of the gospel comes a major responsibility for those who do not know God.
Here are four questions you should be prepared to answer:
- What does it mean to be born again?
- What is sin?
- What is salvation?
- What do Christians mean by love?
In addition to these, here are five questions your neighbors may ask:
- How did you become a Christian?
- Is there anything to look forward to in this life, or in the life to come?
- Will I live forever?
- Is the Bible trustworthy?
- What do you have to do to be forgiven by God?
The next three questions are almost impossible to answer, but they are on the minds of most people:
- Why does a loving God want to put people in hell?
- What is the reason for all the suffering in this world, and why doesn’t God stop it?
- Why are Christians divided into different denominations?
Below are six positions your neighbors may hold. Every Christian needs to seek biblical responses to them:
- Christians are to blame for uncaring attitudes toward the planet. They are so proud of being the most important creatures on it that they have plundered its resources shamefully.
- It is better to terminate the life of a fetus that has physical defects than to let such a child be born to suffer and be disadvantaged.
- Living with a sexual partner is acceptable as long as both are committed to the relationship.
- Divorce should not be seen as anyone’s fault, but rather a mature way of ending an unworkable relationship.
- Animals are as important as humans – after all, humans are animals too.
- Religion is simply mankind’s invention to explain the inexplainable.
Be serious about it!
Try to explain your answers to a Christian friend. Together, try to “give an answer.” Before you talk to your neighbor, be sure that you can say clearly what God has done for you, how He has changed you, and what He is teaching you about Himself and about the life you are now leading.
From Scripture Truth magazine
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA.