“Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.” – 1 Peter 2:12.
People have been trying to disprove the Bible for years. Every time someone thinks they have found evidence that proves the Bible is wrong there is no shortage of people who jump on the bandwagon and automatically portray it as being true. This feeds into the non-believer’s narrative. But those events don’t happen too often and are always proven false so non-believers need something else to justify their non-belief. The best way to do that is to put Christians under a microscope. We are being watched by those who would desire to see believers stumble. It is possible to either encourage someone or hinder them by what we say. The same is true about our actions.
The church today is doing some amazing things. The church is eager to share God’s grace with their friends, neighbors, or even with complete strangers. We can’t expect churches to heal all the wounds in our communities, but we can touch the hearts of people, leading to positive change either socially or spiritually. While we need to let our good deeds shine for all to see, we also need to recognize that non-believers are watching to see if we are walking the talk. Jesus spoke directly about our responsibility to represent Him in Matthew 5:16 when He said, “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
Whenever you sit down with a non-believer for a conversation there are several themes that tend to surface. The first theme is that the objections people raise about Christianity are due to the mistreatment they’ve experienced and/or misconduct they’ve observed on the part of those professing to be followers of Jesus. Another theme is perception: Christianity teaches things like how to become a better person, to love others, to forgive, etc. In other words, the perception of many unbelievers is that Christianity is primarily an ethical code; it’s heavy on right conduct but light on redemption and grace. That is why we need to think differently when we have a conversation with somebody whose heart is far from God.
Paul was a mentor to his younger protégé Timothy. Paul told Timothy: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12 ESV). Paul wanted Timothy’s life and conduct to be something that other people will be able to see and imitate.
In all he does, in all his behavior, Paul is asking Timothy to set an example in every facet of life. There is no area of life that isn’t covered by “set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” This was true for Timothy and it is true of us today.
Our mission requires that we develop relationships with people. We don’t win converts, we don’t win arguments. We connect with people. We authentically love people. Love can only happen as we connect with people. As friends, we have an opportunity to be a witness and show others an amazing Jesus.
- How does the way you see Jesus and yourself impact the way you view others?
- Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. We, like Jesus, need to be intentional about trying to connect with those who likely won’t set foot in our churches: Agree or disagree and why.
- Where in your life are you connected with others, such that you could influence them with your faith?