Written By Chris Wale, UK
Chris Wale is an editor with Our Daily Bread Ministries in the UK. He has a gift for teaching the Bible, whether through preaching, leading Bible study groups, or writing articles. He lives with his wife and two boys. He’s a ‘hands-on’ Dad who loves spending time with his family, going on ‘adventures’ with them and monkeying around with his kids.
I wasn’t much good at maths in school. Which is a very kind way of saying I was terrible at it.
It meant that I was part of a select group “invited” to stay behind after school and work on our algebra-solving skills. One evening, we were set a really, really hard equation (the type which includes half the alphabet as well as numbers and symbols). After 10 minutes, each of us had come up with a different answer. We couldn’t all be correct . . . or could we? I mean, truth is what you make it, right?
We could have compared our answers and said to each other, “Let’s agree to disagree on this. There’s no need to fall out over it. We’ve all got the answer that works for us.” We could have felt confident in our personal understanding of this maths problem. But we’d all have failed our exam, because not one of us had worked out how to solve that equation properly. There was a correct process and a correct answer. In other words: real, solid, actual truth.
What makes Christianity so special?
Many people say all religions ultimately teach the same thing. So long as we hold fast to “our truth”, we’ll all be alright. Except, when we ask three key questions of the world’s religions (Where do they start? What is their goal? How is that goal achieved?), we see quickly that each religion teaches very different truths about our world and our individual destiny.
Jesus was unlike any other religious leader who has ever lived. He offended people with His claim to be God (John 10:33) and He clearly said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Not a way but the way.
In the Bible, Paul sums up the evidence behind Jesus’ claims very nicely:
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he . . . appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living. (1 Corinthians 15:3-6)
Records from the time following Jesus’ life on earth tell us the number of Christians only grew, even though they were hunted, imprisoned, beaten, fed to lions, and killed. Jesus’ followers, and those who believed their message, didn’t have an arrogant preference for Christianity—they were so convinced that Jesus was indeed God and the only way to be saved that they were ready to die for their belief. Today, we share the same truth based on the historical facts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
Is my presentation of Christianity arrogant?
Our faith isn’t arrogant; we have seen where God stepped in and made Himself known—and we simply want to make sure our friends and family are aware and won’t miss out on this truth! However, sometimes we may come across as arrogant in our presentation of our beliefs and the evidence.
I have often found myself struggling with the pressure from church and Christian friends to “make” people Christians. I don’t actually find it that easy to share my beliefs with non-Christians. And the stress of doing so can start to make these people “projects” in my mind, rather than friends. This, I think, is where we start to come across as arrogant and demanding; if our friends feel like the only thing we want from them is a conversion.
How then can we share Christ with them in a gentle and respectful manner? If you’ve felt the same way that I do, here are some pointers that may help.
I heard a Christian speaker once encourage us to invest in our loved ones just because of who they are, and to enjoy our relationship with them. That isn’t to say he was denying the need to tell them about Jesus. But as we simply enjoy being with them, opportunities will come up to share who Jesus is and what He is doing in our lives. If they respond well, then more conversations may follow. If they react negatively, then rather than pressuring them or getting stressed, we can simply take a step back and continue investing in them for who they are. And pray. And look for the next natural opportunity.
That speaker’s teaching built on the principle Jesus taught His disciples when He sent them out to “[preach] that people should repent” (Mark 6:12). Jesus told them: “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them” (Mark 6:10-11).
Jesus was telling His disciples to read the people they were talking to well. If they wanted to hear more, then they could preach. If they were not interested, then the disciples were to allow those people the freedom to make their own choice.
It is very painful to see someone we care about so obviously disinterested in our message about Jesus. Yet if we continue to press them and badger them about all the reasons they should believe, we could potentially cause more harm than good. But if we simply look to share Jesus with them as they are ready and willing to hear, we give them space to make their own choices and decisions in their own timing.
After all, when we think of our own journeys with Jesus, we would each pinpoint a time (or season) when we chose Him. We were not forced; we met Him for ourselves and never looked back. The same will be true of those we share Him with. We avoid accusations of arrogance and allow positive conversations to grow when we give others a space to walk a path with Jesus in their own time. And learning this patience keeps us trusting the whole thing to God, the only One who can actually do the job of opening people’s eyes to the truth.