Christians have the broad reputation of being closed minded. And lets face, based on the way we interact with people who think differently than us, it is easy to see how the world gets that opinion of us. When we encounter someone who disagrees with us, we tend to belittle them and ignore them. For example if we sit down with an atheist we brush them off and just think they are morons. When we encounter a person who is a homosexual we just ignore them, call them sinners, and move on. As a result, Christians have come across of prideful, superior, and closed minded. As Christians, we need to engage the culture, not isolate ourselves from it. If we are going to enter into the public square and state what we believe, we must be prepared to dialogue about our beliefs. For example, if we are going to claim that this is one God, and his name is Jesus, we must have the respect to dialogue with our atheist friends about our worldview. If we expect them to listen to us, we need to at least have the kindness to hear them out as well. This does not mean we accept their views, but just that a dialogue about these things take place. So often, when someone disagrees with Christianity we get angry, take our toys, and go home. We don't even try to reason or give an apologetic for what we believe. We do not try to understand their perspective, we just get up and go away.
I remember a time in high school where I went out to dinner with a friend of mine for the sole purpose of arguing with this atheist class mate. The whole conversation was unhelpful as we both began to get angry, hostile, and mean. Needless to say, it didn't go well! Although we are told to give a reason for everything we believe, we must understand that conversion is a work of the Spirit. No man can convince another man to become a Christian. It is a work of the Spirit alone. As we engage in healthy cultural discussions, we must be filled with prayer as we ask the Spirit to break down walls and soften hearts. The reason we often get so angry and hostile with those who disagree with us, is because we think we can actually change their minds! It is not us but the Spirit, and as you go out and engage in conversation always be filled with love, always be filled with grace, and share the amazing story of what Christ has done for us!
If we are going to reach our culture with the beautiful truth of the Gospel, we must at least be willing to sit down amicably and have a conversation. Don't create unhelpful stereotypes about atheists, homosexuals, Muslims, or any other group that Christians so quickly write off. Don't create blanket judgements that prevent a conversation that could lead to a Gospel presentation. As Christians we are called to be missionaries to the world. This means engaging with the world views around us, and encouraging a healthy dialogue about these controversial issues all the while showing the love of Christ and sharing the truth of the Gospel.
How have you handled those who disagree with you? How can we foster better communication? How can we better engage those around us with the Gospel?
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!