Dale Appleby

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Weekly Reflections

Talking about Jesus 21 Feb 10

Talking about Jesus

The first week of our Lenten Studies has produced some interesting discussions. The two groups I was part of got quite animated when we got to talk about how to explain the death of Christ to our non-church friends.  Lots of interesting ideas and testimonies bubbled forth.

Many of us have a desire to talk, but get a bit intimidated or tongue-tied when it comes to the talk. Some of this is due to our natural reticence, some due to not feeling sure that we know what to say, and for some there is the memory of making a fool of ourselves on a previous occasion.

And for some there is an assumption that we need to be able to tell the whole story in a coherent manner without leaving out anything important. Well, that might be an appropriate assumption if we were preaching a sermon, but it is not true for normal conversations.

Normal conversations blow around in little eddies and big gusts and it is hard to keep any of them on track. My theory is that the greater the number of people involved the more chaotic and hard to keep up with the conversation will be. So unless one is going to dominate it by talking non-stop without taking a breath, a different expectation is needed.

We could practice “sound bite grab” answers to common questions – such as: the problem of evil and suffering, is the Bible reliable, what about other religions, Christians are judgmental hypocrites, do good people go to heaven, is Jesus the only way to God, and so on.

We could practice answering these questions (or one you were asked recently) with a Christian friend. Try different approaches, including leaving a teaser at the end of the answer. However giving answers is not always the best answer. Sometimes asking a question in turn is helpful. “Why do you think that?”, “Can you help me understand what you mean?” are questions that may reveal that the person has a poor understanding of the issue.

They may also reveal that the question is not the real question. Being aware of this helps us not to give long-winded replies to first questions. Sometimes people are testing us out to see if they could converse with us without getting a big lecture – whether we can listen to them. Sometimes people have a BIG question which they won’t ask until they are sure that you are listening and can be trusted.

Dale

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