Today’s guest article is by Ed Cyzewski, author of Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life.
I’m doing a lot of travel and speaking here at the end of October and a few of my friends are helping me out with guest posts.
Addressing the “What works for me” Paradox
When I discuss my faith with someone who says, “I’m glad that works for you. I have my own beliefs that work for me,” I often feel trapped in a tight spot.
How can I speak about the
- coming of God’s Kingdom,
- the message of repentance, and
- the saving work of Christ
without seeming insensitive to this person’s beliefs?
This is a challenge for Christians at a time when asserting one’s own views are the only truth can sound quite closed-minded.
Here are a few things that help me in such a situation:
1. Find Common Ground
Usually people aren’t 100% out to lunch in their beliefs about God or salvation.
We can often find common ground, such as
- God’s desire to repair our world,
- to bring people into relationship with him, and
- to bring justice to evil.
When we talk about Jesus, salvation, and even the cross, we can seek to honor the truths that people bring to the table.
In the process of highlighting our common ground, we can then begin to discuss differences in how we believe God reveals his saving work.
Ask questions and solicit opinions on the matter.
We can state our beliefs, share the scope of the Gospel, and still ask folks to weigh in with their own reactions without giving up on the Gospel.
2. Share What Works for Many, Many Others
When we share the Gospel, we can state with confidence that it is a message that works not only for us, but for people all over the world and throughout history.
This is a message that has changed our own lives and the lives of many others.
While it certainly has been revolutionary in one person’s case, there is a preponderance of testimonies that assert the relevance and power of Christianity for everyone who would believe.
Presenting a Gospel that is cross-cultural and remains potent throughout the centuries carries far more weight than one person’s opinion.
3. The Gospel Over the Years
Sharing our faith is done under the leadership and power of the Holy Spirit, but as we run into the “what works for you is fine” roadblock, we can think ahead of time, prayerfully consider some answers, and dream up ways to present the Gospel in a new context.
Besides, Christians have been recontextualizing the Gospel as they presented it afresh over the years. That worked for them. We should expect to do the same.
Ed Cyzewski is a writer and speaker in New England, the author of author of Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life (order from Amazon), and blogger at www.inamirrordimly.com.