Pop quiz: OK, so I'm here in Florida again visiting my mom for a couple of days. Naturally, I flew (in an airplane), and I sat next to a guy, and I didn't talk about Jesus at all. Does God still love me?
There was a time when I wouldn't have been sure.
I'm reading a fascinating book (The Unbelievable Gospel by Jonathan Dodson) about how we talk to others about Jesus. Many of the ways I was originally trained to "share my faith" were flawed. I would feel guilty if I spoke with a stranger for more than 5 minutes and didn't mention Jesus' name. If I did say "Jesus" at least once, I usually felt like God liked me more. You're right – I hadn't really learned what grace was all about.
Sometimes I was that self-righteous person at work (remember Angela in The Office?). I once actually started a conversation with a very nice southern female co-worker by saying, "You're not a Christian, are you?" That job didn't last very long. Hmm, I wonder why?
Often I thought more about how I was performing (under God's watchful, supposedly judging eye), rather than about what the other person was experiencing and what their real needs and questions were. That led to some very impersonal, stilted interactions.
Now, sharing our faith is important. Penn Jillette, from Penn & Teller (the magicians) is an atheist, but he said, in essence, if you really believe that I'm lost without Jesus and headed for an eternity without God, please find a way to tell me. His actual version was more colorful: "How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?"
But how we do it is important, too. Somebody once asked Francis Schaeffer, the famous Christian author, apologist, and speaker, what he would do if he had an hour to talk to an unbeliever. He said, "I'd spend the first 55 minutes listening. After that, I'd have something to say."
I think I'll try listening for awhile.