You don’t have to be a theologian to talk with your friends about Christ

Do you ever read Jesus’ responses to people and scratch your head with wonder? I do.

I’m reading through the Gospel of John right now and sometimes – ok, most times – I have to re-read his answers to questions in order to understand them.

For example, in John 14:22, one of the disciples questions Jesus about how God reveals himself to believers and not the whole world at the same time.

This is Jesus response in John 14:23-24: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.”

Not exactly a direct answer, right?

But Jesus isn’t skirting sticky issues as much as he is directing the conversation to more important issues. The four Gospels reveal a pattern in the way Jesus speaks and responds to questions thrown at him. He starts with Scripture and sticks to the main points.

Back to the example in John 14:22-24.

Instead of getting side-tracked with the mechanics of divine election, Jesus centered his responses on the key issue of his earthly ministry – a person’s relationship with the Father through the Son.

Go back through chapters 12-14 of John and count the number of times Jesus brings the conversation back around to the believer’s identity and their response to the Father’s work through the Son. You’ll be surprised – regardless of the question thrown at him, the person and work of Christ is the center of his answers almost every time.

I realize the context of this passage is Jesus speaking with his disciples, but Jesus used this same pattern when addressing opponents as well.

This is important because the very thing that keeps us from talking with our friends about Christ is fear.

What if they ask me really difficult questions? Like where Cain’s wife came from?

What if they ask me how the incarnation works? Both God AND man at the same time? Come on. And don’t even get me started on the Trinity!

What if they ask me why God allows people to suffer?

What do you do? Insert head in the sand here?

When in doubt, follow Jesus’s example. Keep conversations centered on Christ by doing three things:

1. Admit you don’t have all the answers.

Not knowing the answer to every question doesn’t invalidate your witness. On the contrary, admitting you don’t have all the answers can authenticate your faith all the more.

We should definitely be ready to give a reasonable defense of what we believe and how Scripture comes to bear on our daily lives. Being able to defend our faith is a task given to all believers – not just theologians. But even seminary graduates need help finding the right words that touch the hearts of each individual.

Incidentally, for those interested in brushing up on your apologetic skills, you should definitely check out Mary Jo Sharp’s website – Confident Christianity.

2. Use the words of Scripture.

Not in a preachy way of course, but in a heart-felt, Spirit-led way. Of course for that to happen, you have to give the Spirit some room to work. The Spirit can’t bring to mind Scripture you haven’t committed to heart.

So, if you want God to move through your words to your friend, then prayerfully immerse yourself in his Word to you. Plus, when you use Scripture to respond to a friend’s earnest questions, the Word of God becomes the authority – not you.

3. Keep the main thing the main thing.

When in doubt, always bring the conversation around to your friend’s relationship with the Son through the Father. Be intentional about looking for segways into sharing the gospel. How? Ask God to give you an opportunity to share. If God’s will is for you to talk to your friend(s) about him, you can trust that he will be faithful to provide you with time and opportunities.

Some difficult questions were thrown at Jesus – by supporters and non-supporters alike. The care and patience he demonstrated to answer those questions should spur us on to be intentional about cultivating conversations that point others to Him – regardless if we’ve got a seminary degree or not.

What ideas do you have for talking with your friends about Christ?

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect …”

1 Pet. 3:15

About melissa deming

Melissa Deming is a freelance writer transplanted from Texas to Pennsylvania with her husband of ten years, Jonathan, and two-year-old identical twins, Zacharias and Jonah. The family serves at a Southern Baptist church plant in Pittsburgh - Living Faith Community Church. Melissa is a regular correspondent for The Southern Baptist TEXAN newspaper and Crossroads magazine of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. She is also the creator and author of HiveResources.com - a site designed to sweeten a woman's walk with Christ through devotional articles, book reviews, and giveaways. Melissa holds a Masters of Divinity in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC, and a B.A. in Journalism from Texas A&M University.