Yesterday at the park a young mom told me her spiritual beliefs. Her friend laughed as she described her “religion.” Her “belief” was a blasphemous reaction to creation to mock Christianity.
This is going to be an interesting conversation, I thought to myself.
I hadn’t even said anything yet about what I believe, yet right from the start she had clearly stated her rejection of my views.
I knew she probably wouldn’t respond well to questions about sin or Jesus, so instead I asked, “What do you think is the biggest problem in the world?” (I don’t normally ask this question, but I had just written a new questionnaire about an hour earlier. I saw the Lord’s provision in that!)
She and her friend liked the question and basically answered that the biggest problem in the world was selfishness. This led into a conversation about Hitler, morals, and truth, and the need for a standard of right and wrong (which they agreed to).
“I guess it comes down to ‘be a good person and that’s all that matters,’” Jackie said.
“Well, here’s my thinking on that,” I told her, “I know that I am not a good person in comparison to God’s holiness and perfection. It’s all in what you compare to.”
Though she didn’t agree with me, she couldn’t exactly disagree either.
Throughout the next half hour or so, I did a lot of listening and a lot of asking questions. A few times I squeezed in some truths, such as: how Christianity is different from the religions, God’s “rescue plan,” the difference between operational and historical science, etc.
I told them, “I disagree with all of the religions.”
This statement seemed to surprise them.
I explained, “All of the religions are about attaining favor with God. But the Bible says that doesn’t work; we could never attain God’s favor. Christianity is about God reaching down to us.”
When I left they thanked me warmly. They stated how nice it was to have clearly opposing views yet still have an enjoyable conversation.
When I came back and recounted the story to my dad, he reminded me of the power of questions. In a situation like this one–when you are talking with someone who has firmly and blatantly rejected Creation and Christianity–questions are a powerful tool. Sometimes, if we ask the right questions, people talk themselves into a corner. Often, it makes a more powerful impact to let them come to the conclusion that they don’t have good answers, rather than simply stating “you’re wrong and here’s why.” I think this is part of what Jesus meant when he told us to be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16).
They probably won’t admit that they don’t have good answers at the time, but the Lord can bring the conversation back to their mind and use what we said.