The Art of Good Conversation
I’m sure you’ve heard it said many times, you should never talk about religion or politics with friends. Why? People would say, they are doors you shouldn’t open as it starts unnecessary conflict and arguments.
The truth is, there are people all around us, that have a lot of unanswered questions.
The people you chat to, may at first seem quite hostile but the art of opening doors with little gentleness, kindness and love can make all the difference.
I’d like to share more of the journey of a story I wrote about in the blog ‘How to Obey God’s Promptings.’ In short, I followed through with a God prompt to talk to a guy in a coffee shop. He was ‘blown away’ by my boldness to talk to him and couldn’t forget the feeling he had when I prayed for him.
He made contact with me a few days later asking if he could meet again. He was itching with questions when I arrived. “Tell me again what it was that God wanted me to know?”, he asked with an almost childlike excitement. “God doesn’t want you to spend eternity without Him”, I answered. His eyes widened, and the conversation unfolded as he mentioned again how blown away he had been the day I stopped to talk with him.
I responded to the various questions he had, and always tried to give him tangible examples of how I had seen God work in my own life. He had lots of questions that he seemed almost too embarrassed to ask, but I assured him that no question was too silly. As with many people exploring faith he had many preconceived ideas.
From my experience, I would say overwhelmingly, that most people I’ve talked to look at Christianity as being very restrictive, and many people feel they have to meet a certain criteria to be accepted by God.
After a while he made a bit of a ‘pointed’ comment, he seemed almost a little annoyed, “You have all the answers!” he blurted.
**I’ll pause here for a moment**
- Do I have all the answers? (No way!)
- Does it sound to him like I do have all the answers? (Probably)
- Is it hard for him to hear the truth of Jesus? (Absolutely! It can make you squirm hearing the truth as it puts a spotlight on lies)
- Do I shy away from the truth? (No way!)
- Can I help to diffuse any possible tension? (Yep! Relax, smile, and…)
**Back to it…**
“Oh, it can sound like that sometimes,” I laughed. “The truth is I am so far away from having all the answers. Even the most learned Christian will spend all of their life getting to know and understand God, and yet still only know a fraction of what God does”. God’s a gentle God and doesn’t force His way in. He appeals to us through different circumstances and when we let him into our lives it’s then when we can understand more. He wants a relationship with us (Revelation 3:20)
He started relaxing again….
The next question came almost out left of field, but the reality is the Holy Spirit was working and highlighting things for him, it was beautiful to see. “So are you going to tell me smoking is a sin?” he asked. I answered him with my story explaining; after I surrendered my life to Jesus I started realising I didn’t want to smoke anymore. I went on to explain, that the Bible says our bodies are where the Holy Spirit lives and that God asks me to look after my body. I realised that every year I used to get sick with this terrible self-induced bronchitis, coughing up bullets of green phlegm. “Argh!”, he gasped. “That’s gross! I’ve heard enough! You’re right, my health isn’t good either, but I’ve never heard it put that way before!”
He went on to ask a number of other questions and made statements that are common to people not believing; things like “Don’t all religions lead to the same God?”, “I feel like people in the church are hypocrites”, “Do I need to go to church to believe in God?”
Quick tip: Try as much as possible not to give immediate answers and instead ask a question back. — the more you try this the the easier it will become.
After chatting through these questions, I explained what it is to be a follower of Jesus. “That makes so much sense”, he said. He then went on to share how he attended Sunday School as a boy but had never heard ‘becoming a follower of Jesus’ put that way. Many times throughout the conversation he apologised for bombarding me with questions and at the end thanked me over and over again for being so patient and answering so many questions.
People are hungry to know Jesus.
Before I left, I asked him if he’d like to pray. Most people need a bit of a prompt and help with praying. It’s so foreign to them, and it’s also a bit strange to do that in front of someone. I asked if he would like to surrender his life to Jesus. He wasn’t ready to do that, but he agreed, there was no way he wanted to go into eternity without God, so he followed me in prayer. “Dear God, I don’t want to go into eternity without you, please open my eyes to see you, teach me and show me how I can follow you”.
Isn’t that awesome! He sent me a text later that day “Thank you so much for all your time and guidance today. So much to absorb, I guess that’s why there’s church on Sunday. You really do have God’s love in you…”
I’m convinced we need to spend more time opening doors for people to explore faith in Jesus in a safe place where they can ask questions without being ‘shot down’. People are hungry to know Jesus. Remember this next time you get nervous about sharing your faith; people who have questions might be just as nervous to ask you!