I have an invitation to talk to an atheist. Actually, it’s a second-hand invitation. As in — “I passed on your contact info to this atheist I know, I told him he needed to talk to you.”
This happens to me all the time and quite honestly, I love it. But it does leave me a bit conflicted at times.
First, I’m thankful. It’s humbling to be introduced as someone’s pastor to their friends that are skeptical at best about God. It means they trust me to not go “pastorally postal.” They know I’m not combative or argumentative. They know I’m going to try to get to know the person, not treat them as a product or a prize.
But…at times….it feels like being thrown into a den of starving wolves with a pork chop tied around my neck. Am I supposed to have the answers? Am I supposed to know the secret sauce of words that will unlock a person’s heart and mind?
Here’s the truth – There are days when I have a hard time figuring out the questions, let alone the answers. I don’t know the secret sauce. I more I learn, the less I understand – to steal a line from Don Henley.
The first few questions that I’m going to ask will have little to do with theology. Do you like Dave Matthews Band? What about Parachute? Do you really think that Boise State deserves to be #1 or #2 if they end the season undefeated?
Here’s the foundation of talking to people about Jesus – love people. Don’t be more in love with the tract, the process, the church, and theology more than you are the person you are talking with. Besides being counter-productive, it’s nothing at all like Jesus.
How can I serve this person? How can I help this person? What in their story connects with my story?
What’s humbling in these conversations is understanding that I’m not REALLY there to talk to them ABOUT Jesus. I’m really there to talk FOR Jesus. And I think He’d like Parachute.