By Greg Johnson
You are always looking for ways to get to know our neighbors better. Why? Though you don’t see them as targets, you realize how important it is to live your faith in front of them—and perhaps even tell them about it if they ask.
One Saturday night you invite the Hayden’s over for dinner. They’re an older couple and all of their children have left for college and jobs. Mr. Hayden has been nice about lending us his tools, and Mrs. Hayden was the only one to greet us when we moved into the neighborhood. (She even brought over some pumpkin bread.)
You pray for the meal, and after everyone has dished up and started eating, Mr. Hayden begins talking.
“You guys are churchgoers, aren’t you?”
“We’re Christians, Sam,” you say. “Sometimes there’s a difference.”
“When we first got married we went to the church Miriam grew up in,” Sam continues. “But you know what those church folk did? Over some little thing, they made life miserable for her dad. He was the greatest guy in the world. But what they did to him really tore him to pieces. I looked at that and said there’s no way I’m going to let them do that to me. We quit going completely; haven’t been back since.”
“That’s a tragic story, Sam. I’ve been a Christian for a long time and one thing’s sure: Christians are humans who sometimes do really dumb things. I’ve been disappointed and let down by friends at church before—and I know it will happen again. That’s why I look to God and the Bible and not to other sinful humans—like me—to tell me what God is like.”
“I read the Bible once,” Sam says while scooping another spoonful of mashed potatoes in his mouth. “I didn’t understand most of it, and didn’t agree with the rest. I’d like to believe, but I don’t know why the Bible is so necessary. Can’t someone just be a good person and believe what they want to believe about God?”
Questions to Think On
• Why is the Bible so important?
• How would you answer Sam’s last question?
• It seems that Sam is an honest doubter. How would you try to bring him along?
• At the end of the evening, what would you say to try to keep the conversation going for another time?
What Does God Have to Say?
Be merciful to those who doubt.
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.