Do we know the difference between talking to and talking at someone?
I think about Paul and his time in Athens in Acts 17. Yes, he spoke to the Jews of the town, but it says,
“And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures…”
I LOVE THIS! Paul didn’t jump in and say how much better he was than them, nor how much holier he was. He had such a heart to reach their hearts, such a passion, such a concern. He spent weeks here trying to help them see the Truth of the scriptures that they already knew. He DIALOGUED with them.
Sowing seeds through dialogue.
My husband teaches at a community college. For years he used to feel guilty that he never led anyone to the Lord. But then he started to think about what he DID do. He talked with his students. Atheists, agnostics, wiccans…he talked to them. When they’d come to his office to talk about life and faith (they all knew he was a Christian), he gained their respect because he TALKED with them. Not AT them. No “hellfire and brimstone” diatribes. No talking down to them in disdain for their beliefs (or lack of beliefs).
He has found, over the years, that what he does is to help these students see a Christian who is reasonable, caring, humble and intelligent. He helps them realize that Christianity isn’t as stupid or judgmental as they thought. He helped them see a Christian who cares. Not someone who cares ONLY so he can say his spiel, but someone who really TRULY cares about THEM.
It is very easy for us to have our ‘buttons’. Those topics that trigger our Soapbox Reaction. Where we spout and do not listen. Where we launch into a diatribe against others with no thought to dialogue. The problem is that when we respond that way, we have cut off communication with the very people we should be drawing into conversation. It often makes me stop and re-examine my OWN life and discussions, particularly with unbelievers. Do I, like Paul, seek to REASON — or am I just wanting to spout my agenda without concern for the actual people I’m with? Am I seeking to be loving or just to be self-righteous? OUCH!!
Are there areas in YOUR life where you end up having a diatribe instead of a dialogue? How can you change your communication to draw others to Christ?