But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
1 Peter 3:15
I love how God confirms and reminds me of the truth of His Word. This last Sunday I was in Walla Walla and visited Trinity Baptist Church with my mother. The sermon was part of a series on sharing our faith with others. The verse above was the springboard for the sermon.
The pastor emphasized how that we need to deal with unbelievers with gentleness and respect if we expect to be able to make an impact on their lives for Christ. He went on to talk about what that looks like.
One way that we can show gentleness and respect (reverence) is to really listen to them. We need to listen and ask thoughtful questions and listen some more. He said that jumping in to correct every little bit of wrong theology in their thinking is not treating them with gentleness and respect and will only shut them down so they won't want to listen to anything we have to say.
So this morning I am reading in Luke 2 and I'm at the part where Jesus' parents have lost him and they went back to search for him in Jerusalem. He was found at the temple among the teachers.
Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. Luke 2:46-47
What was Jesus doing? In verse 45 he is both listening and asking questions. Jesus spent three days listening and asking questions, not correcting their theology, but listening and asking questions.
What was the result? When it came time for Him to answer them on their questions and perhaps correct some theology, they were amazed at His understanding and His answers. They stuck around long enough to hear Him out most likely because He took the time to listen to them and ask questions.
Of course, we know that later, these teachers were not happy with Jesus' teaching as his ministry developed, but that is a risk we take when we share the Gospel with people. My main point is that He started out showing them gentleness and respect by listening and asking questions, gaining enough trust that they were willing to hear Him out at that point.
It amazes me how many times I will hear a sermon on the radio, read something in a book, hear a sermon at church and read my daily Bible reading and find confirmation of the truth of what I had heard or read elsewhere. Many times, on the way to church, the radio preacher will say something and then that very thing is confirmed to us in the sermon. It's uncanny how that works. God is always amazing me. I think He knows I need to hear it from two or three sources in order for it to really sink in.
Listen....really listen. Ask questions. Listen some more. Ask more questions. Listen again...then when the time is right, talk about the claims of Jesus Christ.