Do your research, don’t be afraid of other people’s point of view, be a good listener, live what you preach and be joyful. The last point about this on my mind is:
Whatever you do, do it in love.
This is paramount, this is the root of it all. Why are we sharing our faith? Love. When you love someone, you truly want the best for them. When you love them, you want to know that their salvation is assured. You want them to have peace, forgiveness, and to know about God’s grace. You want the things for them that you know being a Christian can bring, you want that joy and faith to be in them, you want to see the beautiful changes work through their lives the way they worked through yours.
I think a lot of the damage we inadvertently do is done because we skip over the love. When we’re not working in love, we run the risk of sounding angry, accusing, judgemental. You can change the words that come out of your mouth, but you can’t fake the love and if it’s not there it will be apparent. While we don’ t have to love what a person is doing with his or her life, we’d better get to a point where we love that person before we try to do something as important as witness to them.
It’s not easy to love certain people, and at times it’s understandable that you just can’t get that feeling going in your heart. Wait. Pray. Silently hand them a Bible or some other bit of (loving!) literature and pray for a change of heart. Remember that each and every person is precious to God, that every last person you’ll ever meet is known completely by God and is one of His children. Sometimes it’s easier to witness in love to people you don’t know very well. I’m not at all saying that you can’t have a very fruitful, loving, life-changing conversation with someone you just met on the bus…one of the greatest things about life is there’s no limit or law to loving and we’re capable of loving everyone, whether we know them or not, even though we too often choose not to.
Especially in the case of someone who is adamantly against your point of view and is challenging your faith, however, it can be easy to forget that what we’re doing should be born of love…love for God and love for the person…and it’s easy to get swept up in the moment. Arguments about theological points, dogma, doctrine and the like can get so heated and passionate that the actual point (which is simple in a way only God can design) gets left behind. They don’t have to agree with everything you say or believe, and they don’t have to get to that point right now. If they let God into their heart, He will work the rest out…we don’t have to. That’s the beauty of it! It’s not up to us. God can use everything (even when we do mess it up, which we sometimes will) to His good. We are often not there to see the seeds we helped plant grow, but that doesn’t always mean that they haven’t taken root!
On a side note, I wanted to make sure you know that these are points I’m trying to make a part of my own faith, not points I claim (in the least!) to be a master of. Just some things I’m working on in my own walk, and wanted to share!