Life Outside the Bubble, Pt. 2

Last week I wrote about living inside the “Christianity” Bubble and how it negatively impacts the world, rather than positively impacts. It does that by focusing our faith inwardly and on entertaining ourselves rather than completing the mission Jesus gave us. It also keeps us from keeping up with the culture and times that we live in resulting in our being out of touch with reality.  Over the next few weeks, I’m going to deal with some of these issues and maybe, help find, or at least propose solutions to the problem.
One of the first (and biggest) problems that we need to deal with is how we respond to people of different religions.  Usually, (and I’m speaking in generalities here) the average Christian, when confronted with someone with another belief system has NO idea how to respond.  Our default reaction is to throw out John 14:6, or quote other Scriptures to tell the other person why they are wrong and if they aren’t careful, how they will end up in Hell. We think that then and there, by throwing out a random Scripture, we will somehow change there mind in the 5 seconds that we have met them.
The problem behind this problem is that we, as the church, don’t take time to educate ourselves on other religions.  We base our opinions on what someone told us, or what some random preacher blurted out from the pulpit – but we never really take the time to understand, study, and educate ourselves to other religion.
If we ever hope to even begin a dialog with someone about Jesus, than we’re going to have to do our homework as well, and take the time to understand, respect, and see where others are coming from. It’s up to us to learn about other faiths and systems together, to ask questions together, and to reach out together.
Now, I am a firm believer, and I mean 100% that Jesus Christ is the only true, lasting, and real offer of eternal salvation.  Know that right now.  But, here’s the deal when talking with other’s about religion.   If we come across as arrogant, mean-spirited, bigoted, or hateful, people will not hear our side of things (unless we force it on them).  If we do not take the time to develop a relationship with that person, and I’m talking about a real, deep, and trusting relationship, we will NEVER reach anyone.
Look at Paul in Acts 17 when speaking to the Athenians.  He didn’t run in the room  guns blazing and assault their religion.  Rather, Paul used took the time to walk around the city and see and understand what they believed.  It says “he became greatly distressed that the city was full of idols” (17:16).  But then after he was convicted, it says he “reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace.” This word “reasoned” in the Greek means to “discuss, ponder, or to mingle thought with thought” (Thayer’s Lexicon).  Paul didn’t run in and assault the religion of people, because he knew how important and sensitive it was – rather, he went to where they were and talked about it with them, sought to understand it, and get all the information he could. That lead the philosophers of Athens to take him to a meeting with all the other philosophers to discuss this “new teaching” that they had never heard!  Because Paul was gentle, loving, and interested, he gained the right to share his faith in Christ!
He gets to the meeting and begins to address the people – but He starts out by using their religion, their poets, their ideas (even telling them he looked carefully at their objects of worship, vs. 23) as a stepping stone to find the common ground on which Jesus can be presented.   As a result, quite a few became Christians (17:34), and Paul was invited back to teach them some more! (17:32).
The point is this:  If we are to truly reach the world for Jesus, than we must understand other people’s backgrounds and closely held religious beliefs. While Jesus is the only way to God (John 14:6), for people to hear that they must know that we care and respect them as people.  If not, we will never gain any ground or successfully help the broken come the Healer.  Just something to think about.

Proverbs 18:17  The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.

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