11 Tips for Talking About God With Your Friends
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Many times when we are not in a Christian environment we might find ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place in terms of sharing or defending our faith. Many of our justifications and arguments regarding evangelization and apologetics are theological, philosophical or, at best, based on something that happened to someone else.
Since we are always intent on providing you with tools with which to practice your faith each day without feeling embarrassed –and not becoming a part of the WAUC (Worldwide Agency of Undercover Catholics)– or hitting everyone over the head with the Bible, we wish to present 11 ideas that you can use when talking about God to others, especially with those friends who have little or no faith at all.
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1. Translate the teachings of the Church into terms that are easy to understand
An evangelist (one who preaches the Gospel) is a translator. Jesus explains the great mysteries of faith by using simple ideas communicated through parables. The Church teaches us great and wonderful things that at times require us to have a PhD in Philosophy in order to explain them. First, take the time to study them yourself and then put the teachings into simple words so that your friends can begin to understand.
2. There’s no opposition between faith and humor
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As St. Teresa of Ávila, exasperated with the trails of life, said to God: “If this is how You treat your friends, it is no wonder You have so few”. Faith need not be something overly serious and formidable. God does indeed have a sense of humor! Humor is capable of bringing the hardest and most stubborn heart to its knees. Sometimes a good joke or a good laugh can be a breaking point in a conversation where the other person feels that you get what they are going through.
3. The ABCs of your Personal Testimony
Obviously, stating that God exists because you feel it in your heart will have you looking quite foolish. However, we must acknowledge this: God has done something in your life and relating that experience to others is irrefutable. When you provide your testimony, try to do the following: A. Announce with joy, B. Be brief, C. Confess your belief in Christ (keep him in the center!). There is nothing more unconvincing than a long, boring and self-centered story. Reflect on and put your personal testimony in order.
4. Recognize the “seeds of God”
God is omnipresent and is in all human realities, thus His truth is also there, in the non-believer you are speaking with. Seek those seeds of God contained in all the disbelief and hostility hidden in that heart full of rational and logical arguments.
5. Never Separate Morals from Love
A large part of those who are non-believers are non-believers simply because the moral measuring rod is so high that they feel incapable or unwilling to live this way and to aspire to this lifestyle. Remind them that God loves them, just as they are now. That he wants nothing more than for them to discover his love. Still, God’s love is powerful. It transforms. Thus, in encountering God our lives must necessarily change and we must learn to live and love as he teaches us. God’s love, however, is also patient. He knows things take time and is more than willing to accompany us every step of the way.
6. Don’t try to win arguments
Speak without simply trying to win the argument or show that you are better than the other person. It is not a contest and you are not better. See things from the viewpoint of love; empathize with the person and with his/her story. Never allow it to become a debate: Debates tend to accentuate our differences and not what we share in common! To date, I believe that no one, after a debate, has said: “Ok, you win and I am on your side, I believe now”.
7. Don’t avoid the issue, they know you have faith
It’s like going to a party. You cannot sit in a corner and look on silently. Non-believers – especially those who are explicitly atheist— like to talk about God with those who are openly believers. Come to grips with this and prepare yourself; don’t worry too much about. Avoiding the topic because you are overly afraid of offending can, at times, be more annoying than anything else. Remember that your faith is a gift, something to be grateful for and to share.
8. May your whole life speak of God
The most convincing argument is your true conviction, convinced to such a point that each day you try to live what you believe (we know that trying does not always mean achieving, but it does imply a sincere effort to be coherent and sincere).
9. Speak from your heart
We are frail. Speaking from our own experiences of fragility and doubt can be something enormously appreciated. In fact, many times that experience of doubt is one of the best starting points because it creates common ground (we all experiment doubt!). Avoid acting like you have super powers and super knowledge: God is not an enigma that solves everything according to our human logic. He is a mystery that we enter into. He is greater than all of us and he many times calls us to undergo quite a lot of uncertainty (otherwise there would be no room for trust).
10. Seek the wellbeing of others
We don’t want to explain the existence of God in order to include a new member in our group and form a larger group for our next pilgrimage. God is a gift that we wish to share and that is what the person in front of us should sense, rather than sensing that you are feeding him something distasteful that he must grudgingly chew on for his own good, like we do with young children. Christianity is much more than some kind of political party with its own ideology, it is about living relationships between God and his Church.
11. You and he/she have something in common: you both are free to believe what you wish
Belief is a free choice. The experience of faith is a free-flowing experience in which we freely receive and freely give. The non-believer also chooses freely and you must respect this, even when this choice will not always lead them to make good decisions. We must love the person even though his/her choices may not always be easy to love. Evangelization is always love.