Once, as I was travelling on a train and conversing with an acquaintance, he remarked something along the lines of, “I will never be a Christian and I think a lot of them are hypocrites.”
Being someone who tries to avoid conflict by nature, my immediate thought was to find a way to acknowledge his comment and quickly change the subject. However, by divine intervention, I responded by saying, “Oh, if you don’t mind me asking, what makes you say that?”
Then began the story of how my friend was angry with his uncle who was a pastor, because this uncle tried to persuade his grandfather to accept Christ even at his grandfather’s deathbed. My friend felt that what his uncle did was insensitive and caused hurt to his grandfather, a dying man who only wanted his children to give offerings to him after he passed away. However that was something that his uncle could not agree to. On top of that, the uncle even had the audacity to evangelise to his father. Since then, my friend was repulsed by the Christian faith and did not want to have anything to do with it.
Upon listening to his story, it gave me a better idea of why he does not want to be a Christian and the background behind why he felt that Christians were hypocrites.
Although we were acquaintances, we had a sufficient level of comfort in our relationship for me to first acknowledge what he said, and to share a possible perspective of his uncle, since I too, was a Christian. I told him that his uncle probably had something he so strongly believed was true that he had to tell his father about, regardless of the hate he may get from his relatives and even his father. Knowing Jesus, to his uncle, was urgent and important that he was willing to do anything for his dying father to do.
By God’s grace, at the end of our conversation, he said that he had a new perspective of the intentions of his uncle, and he felt like he did not need to be angry with him. My friend did not commit his life to Christ that day, but he did move a step away from being hostile to God. That’s a step closer to knowing Christ someday.
Of course, this is just one example, and there are many different reasons why people reject Christ, and many different ways to respond to them.
Jesus too, used different ways to approach different people. One of the ways He used was to listen to their story, ask them questions and meet them where they are. One well known example is Jesus and the woman at the well from John 4. Jesus knew who she was right from the beginning, but He initiated a conversation, asked her questions and listened to her story. He saw through the barriers she put up, and met her where she was. Jesus brought her from viewing Him as a Jew, to see that He was a prophet, and finally to acknowledge that He is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.
How can we meet people where they are this week? Is there someone you can listen to, ask questions and show them a perspective of Christ?
Sister Cherlyn Oh