Nearly everyone that moves through the earth is on some sort of faith journey, whether it’s a journey away from faith or a firm planting in one of the world’s major religions.And while our culture teaches tolerance across the board, anyone that is happy and fulfilled in their faith wants to share what they know with others. It’s like using essential oils or doing Whole30, except that one’s faith is so deeply personal that the campaigning can easily run into a roadblock.
Personally, I have never been great at sharing my Christian faith. In my heart, I mourn for people that walk through life with a hole in their hearts, hustling in a constant search for love and belonging. That mourning comes not from a place of judgment or pity, but from a place of honest sadness because I really believe that God is the answer to their seeking.
As people of faith, we must learn how to strike a balance between the honest desire to share what we think is the way to go, with a sensitivity to the fact that we are all made differently; not only in genetics, but in a million different, small elements that comprise somebody’s personal background. Each person we speak to is a literal kaleidoscope of attitudes, DNA, and events that combine to make them a unique individual. To add to this jumble of individuality is the fact that there are a handful of other faiths, each of them with their own healthy chunk of followers, each of them with their own wish to share their truth with others.
At the end of the day, faith is not one-size-fits-all.
So what do we do with what we believe is the answer, the secret that would turn the world on its top, would fix marriages, schools, families, and politics? How do we share what we love with people that believe differently?
If possible, share your life, not just your religion.
For the person you pass on the street or on the subway, this may not be possible; but for most of us, evangelism should come from a relationship. Whomever we are sharing with should know before we mention any God that they are important to us as a person. Hours, days, weeks, and months of shared time, conversations, and community building should precede any attempt to change someone’s belief system. There are exceptions to this, and the Holy Spirit is the boss of those situations; however, most attempts to change someone’s heart will be in the midst of a long walk through life together as friends.
Respect their background.
For many of the world’s major religions, belief systems are tightly wound with culture and family. When a follower of Jesus attempts to convert someone of a different faith, we are asking them to extricate their religion from other crucial parts of their life, and sometimes that’s not so easy to untangle. This truth isn’t instinctive to Western Christians because we experience a lot of freedom, and we can choose to depart from a denomination or a tradition with little recrimination; however, this isn’t the case for some other faiths.
Remember that it’s a process.
The words of truth you speak to someone on Day 1 may appear to have a negligible effect, but remember that building faith is a lengthy process. In 1 Corinthians 3:6, Paul reminds us that he planted, and Apollos watered, but God did the growing; illustrating that many believers move in and out of the lives of non-believers, each of them dropping seeds of truth along the way. Eventually, these will grow into change. It’s up to us to be faithful with the time that we have with the people we know, and treat them as Jesus would like them to be treated: with kindness and sensitivity. The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts and changes hearts. We are only his helpers.
These three steps all work as one and paint a picture of patience, sensitivity, and commitment. People of other faiths are not projects for us to “take on” or boxes for us to “check.” They are people, made in God’s image, that are hopefully finding their way back to Him. We can harm this process with ears that do not hear or eyes that do not see them the way God does; or we can help it by walking through life with them, learning about their backgrounds and their hearts, and showing them that their life has value; all of this, before God’s name is even mentioned.
We can be the one who plants or waters the seeds of faith and change, and we will have success if we are sensitive to those in our lives, and faithful to the one who does the growing.
Want to understand the Christian faith more? Listen to this episode of our podcast: Hope: What Easter is Really All About – 033.
You’ll also like When Bearing Their Burden Breaks You, Not Sure How to Answer the Question: “What’s Your Why?”, 5 Faith-Based Podcasts for Women That Will Refresh You, Have You Ever Said It? “I’m Not Good Enough.”, and Building Faith: Growing in Your Relationship with God.