Saturday, December 26, 2009

Focusing on Jesus While Discussing Faith

I know many people who do not consider themselves Christian. Many of these people do have a belief in God and a surprising number of them have a deep respect for Jesus. Though they may not be Christians, I often have engaging conversations with them about Jesus. Such people are often interested in talking about Jesus because of the great respect they have for Him.

For example, Jews believe in the same God as Christians. Though most Jews do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah for whom they have been waiting, many Jews do have respect for Jesus as a great religious teacher. When talking about Jesus to Jews, we can focus on what Jesus says about Moses and other prophets whom laid the foundation for the Jewish faith.

Muslims believe in a god named Allah. Some Muslims say that Allah is the same God as the Christians, though other Muslims say it is a different god. Since I am not Muslim, I'll let them debate that question between themselves. But nearly all Muslims respect Jesus as a great prophet and religious teacher; even if they don't think Jesus is the Savior of the world. When talking to Muslims about Jesus we can focus on the prophetic words that Jesus spoke since they respect Jesus as a prophet.

Many Buddhists even believe in Jesus, they just think He is a reincarnation of one of the Buddhas. Though I don't share that viewpoint, I do appreciate their respect for Jesus. When talking to Buddhists we can talk about what Jesus said about inner spirituality being superior to outward appearances since that is also important to Buddhists.

Gandhi, who was Hindu, had great respect for Jesus. Gandhi once said that if people in his nation actually lived like Jesus, all of India would be Christian. When talking to Hindus about Jesus, we can focus on the actions Jesus told us to emulate.

Many atheists even respect the way Jesus talked about social justice issues and agree with how Jesus chastised established religion for neglecting the poor and needy. When talking to atheists about Jesus we can focus on the relational aspects of how Jesus told us to treat each other.

The point I am trying to make is that talking to others about Jesus is a good thing, even if those individuals are not Christians. Those of us who are Christians should try hard to make sure we don't mess up our discussion about Jesus by failing to act like Jesus. We are the ones who claim to be the followers of Jesus but when we fail to actually follow His example and teachings, it makes our verbal sharing about Jesus weaker. As 2009 draws to a close and we begin to focus on a new year, may those of us who claim to be Christians make the resolution to live out our faith in both word and deed this year, both to each other and to those who do not consider themselves Christians.

7 comments:

  1. I like this.

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  2. I like this.

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  3. One thing Jesus always did without fail was to respect people as individuals and honor their decisions, even when they were wrong. Even when Jesus cleared the money changers from the temple, He loved them, but He hated their actions.

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  4. Thanks for the specific advice re witnessing to these groups. My latest comment to a professing agnostic, a college prof., was this: "The core of Christianity is agape."
    He hasn't responded to that.

    In the SBC old WMU magazine called "Royal Service" Mohammmed didn't come up with the name "allah". He chose from the 1000's of Persian gods. One of the idols was allah.
    I've never been able to verify this.
    Do you agree?

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  5. Dr. Terry W. DorsettDecember 29, 2009 at 7:39 PM

    Joan,
    I really don't know where Mohammed got the name for his god. What I do know is that Muslims do not have a concept of a god that is merciful and loving, so it does not sound like the Christian God to me. But I'm content to let the Muslims sort that one out between themselves. I know who I serve and that is what is what is important to me.

    Dr. T.

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