What do you think? When atheists, Muslims or others who don’t share our Christian faith hang out in an online Christian community, is that a problem? Or is it an opportunity?
I think it’s an opportunity to show them the love of Jesus.
How do we do that?
#1 We welcome. Mahatma Gandhi was exploring Christianity as a young man and considered converting to our faith until a church man barred him from attending church and threatened to throw him down the front steps of the church if he didn’t leave. Why? He was the wrong color. Wow! How would history be different if that church man had opened the doors to that very important visitor.
#2 We listen. It’s easy to post all kinds of things about what we believe, but we get further by listening. I remember a social media post where a person said that even though she was a Muslim, she still loved Jesus. Someone blasted her with a long reply asserting that the Jesus she loved was demonic, and she was deceived, and so on. Even if all of that were true, how does that help her? All it does it teach her that it’s not safe to open up around Christians. Let’s work hard to be a safe place for others to process their journey. After we’ve built the relationship, then we earn the right to tell our own story and to explain why we believe what we believe.
Remember: Winning an argument is easy. But we aren’t called to win arguments. We’re called to win people to Jesus.
#3 We learn. Let’s not assume that we can’t learn anything from those who don’t share our faith. God has the power to speak into our lives through anyone, including non-Christians. That doesn’t mean that we give up or compromise our beliefs. Not at all! Like the Bereans (Acts 17:11), we test everything against the word of God.
#4 We take the high road. If others post something provocative, we respond with grace, if we respond at all. If they call us names, we do NOT call them names. We are courteous without being a doormat. (Of course, if someone posts something abusive or pornographic, we flag it. We have standards, and all members of the community need to respect those standards.)
#5 We pray. Everybody needs the presence of God in their lives including our friends who don’t (yet) share our faith. Many people, especially those who are hostile, are hurting deeply inside often without even being aware of it. Their bristling sarcasm is just a way of covering up deep wounds. So we pray. You never know—your prayer might be the one that tips the scale and brings that person to faith.
#6 We speak the truth in love. Both are needed. Truth and love. We follow the example of Jesus and listen carefully for the leading of His Spirit in our lives as we pick and choose what to say and what to leave unsaid.
From the Bible:
Are people persecuting you? Take the high road. Don’t curse them. Speak prayers of blessing over their lives. Romans 12:14 The Easy Bible
Remember, you are designed to make a difference!
Photo credit: Adapted from a picture by Daniel Weinand on Flickr, Creative Commons License