How To Talk To Non-Christians About God
By sis Sophia Tay
Introducing God and the church to people we know and meet is probably one of the most difficult things to do. They either do not believe in the God of the Bible or are not believers in the doctrine. There does not seem to be much things that we can use as a conversation starter, and it would be strange to randomly start talking about something as abstract as ‘Does God exist’ or ‘Why do I worship every Sunday’. However, it is truly important to introduce the reality of God and that there is a right way of living according to God. Here are a few examples I encountered and which I also heard from others.
Is it important?
Before going further, are we convinced of the importance of having others know about God and the way of life that God desires?
Luke 11:33-36 NKJV 33 “No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light. 34 The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light.”
Light is a good thing, even a necessary thing. Would you prefer to walk down a dark street at night or a street with at least several lampposts with functioning lights? It is ridiculous to cover a candle with a bushel (a utensil like a basket or pot) when it is lit, precisely because the people around it need it. The teachings in the Bible are truly good things that do not need to be hidden.
We should look for opportunities to speak about God, the Bible, and the church. Titus 2:11 NKJV states, "the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men". Everyone is eligible to accept salvation; we are in no position to decide who should get a chance to know about it. I remember Uncle Tian Seng sharing with us that one morning he had a chat with a stranger at a coffee shop close to the church building. He had wanted to tell the man that there was a church nearby, but before he knew it, the man finished breakfast and took his leave. Such ‘alamak’ moments have probably happened to most of us before. Yes, we feel bad for a while for missing the opportunity, but it is important that we realize we have taken a step by looking out for opportunities. What’s next is to see the opportunity through.
Do what you say, not what you do?
We do not always have to speak about God; we can also demonstrate different values and a different way of life. Imagine you are in a department store: you have just bought two $20 scarfs for gifting, and, as you walk towards the exit, you look at the receipt and see that the cashier has charged you for one, not two, scarfs. Would you walk back to the cashier and tell him/her that he/she mistakenly took less payment from you? How differently would you act if your friend were accompanying you to the store? Jesus severely criticized the Pharisees for putting on their best behaviour when they were being seen. Jesus, as God, saw and still sees into people’s thoughts (Luke 16:15), and he knew what the Pharisees’ real intentions were:
Luke 11:43-44 NKJV 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like graves which are not seen, and the men who walk over them are not aware of them.”
Hypocrisy in the Pharisees did a lot of harm back then. Because they disbelieved Jesus and were well-respected in their communities, they influenced many Jews to reject Jesus. Imagine if they had been the complete opposite, a strong believer and advocate like the apostle Paul was described in Acts. The change in their lives for the good would have been a strong advocate for God.
Talking to believers from denominations
‘Believers’ is used here to refer to people who believe in the existence of the God of the Bible but who follow a different doctrine and practice. This is often more difficult because they may have a wider knowledge of the Bible text than you do. Other Christians say that asking questions to get the person to prove his or her statement has worked for them rather than taking on the burden of proving yourself when you get into a conversation about God or Christianity. In this way, it will become obvious to you which points of doctrine you differ from your friend and what his/her understanding of the topic is. For instance, he/she says, "I used to attend ABC church, and now I am at DEF church instead, which practices XYZ." You could ask, "What do you think about the doctrine of XYZ?" “Is it okay with you that the DEF church has a different doctrine?” Based on your friend’s answer, you could talk about Ephesians 4 (‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism, meaning there should only be one Christian doctrine; one unified belief) and ask what he/she understands about the verse.You could also point out that according to Bible scholars (e.g., Strong’s Dictionary), the word "faith" was translated from the Greek word "pis"-tis", meaning "moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly, constancy in such a profession; by extension, the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself: assurance, belief, faith, fidelity. Showing that your understanding of the Bible is rooted in facts and study (i.e., you did not make this up) can persuade people to look at it differently.
Sometimes we worry that we do not know enough about the Bible—what if we end up inviting questions or criticisms that we cannot answer? Paying attention to Bible studies and classes comes into play here. Apart from your studies, you can learn a lot from the lessons taught every Sunday and Thursday. There are also more experienced brethren in the church who can help you with teaching a friend.
There are several ways we can try to introduce the word of God to the people around us. If we have the right attitude towards trying, we do not need to worry about the outcome. As we read in 1 Corinthians 3:5-8 NKJV, let us remember that every little effort counts and God is in control of the outcome.
5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.