One of the most terrifying things that can happen to a Christian is to be asked about their faith by someone who isn’t a Christian:
“Aren’t all religions basically saying the same thing?”
“Doesn’t the Bible endorse slavery?”
“Hasn’t science disproved the Bible?”
“Don’t you have better things to do on a Sunday?”
We know that we’re meant to pray for these moments so we can dazzle our enquiring friend with our clear explanation of Jesus’ love and then lead them to faith in Christ, but more than likely we’re actually just scared we’re going to stuff it up.
I get asked questions like this from time to time and in my post-answer analysis I’m generally pretty unimpressed with my form. I feel like I give bumbling, apologetic answers that are totally unclear. I generally suspect that my friend went away less impressed with Christianity than they were before.
So what can you do?
One option is to run away. Or pretend they have the wrong person. (“Oh I’m not a Christian, you got me confused with my brother, Tim French.”) Or pretend you don’t speak English. These are all options available to you.
But, the Bible does say “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15) So perhaps better than running away is to be prepared. Like a scout.
How does one actually get prepared? Here are some ideas.
1. Figure out possible questions
The first thing to do is to figure out what questions you might get asked. The easiest way to do this is if a friend has already asked you a question! If you don’t know the answer when they ask you’re allowed to say “Good question. I don’t know, let me get back to you.” Then make sure you get back to them.
However, if you haven’t been asked a question, but live in fear of it, ask your friends what questions they get asked. Ask your pastors too. Find a person who you know who is known by all their friends as a Christian and ask them what they get asked. And if you still can’t find any questions, go read the comments section of any article online that hints at religion. That’ll give you plenty.
2. Figure out possible answers
Now that you have some questions, you need answers. So spend some time researching how you could address some of the questions. Ask your friends, ask your pastor, read some books, go search YouTube. Not every answer is going to be good, but they’ll help you figure out what you think. Most importantly, see what the Bible has to say on the topic. If you want to answer the questions from a Christian perspective, it’s pretty important that you include the Bible in your answer. You may not always like what it has to say, but, you know, it’s the Bible.
Finally, see if you can figure out how Jesus fits into your answer. In the end, you’d love your friend to see how great Jesus is, so if your answer can show them him, that’s a win.
Now that you have an answer to your question run it by some people you know and trust. If you’re really brave, find a friend who isn’t a Christian and see what they think of your answer. Then, after some honing, when you’re happy with what you’ve got, write it down. Now ask your friends if you can practice your answer on them. You’ll feel dumb but better to feel dumb while you practice than feel dumb when you get asked a question and don’t know how to answer.
4. Live a good life
The verse from 1 Peter comes in the context of Peter writing that followers of Jesus should live such good lives in the world that even if people dislike us because of our faith, they won’t be able to fault our behaviour. So live a life of love, kindness, generosity and all those other good things. It’ll be the best preparation for your answer no matter when people ask you.
5. Trust Jesus
When someone actually does ask you a question, say a quick silent prayer, (“Help me!” works great) then do your best at answering with gentleness and respect. Even if your answer is rubbish, Jesus can use it. He’s more interested in your friend knowing him than even you are, so trust that he’ll work it all out. Jesus has got this, you can relax.
And that’s it, five tips on question preparedness. I wrote this post because I got an email from someone asking me what my answer would be to the question “Why are you a Christian?” They were getting prepared, and they hadn’t even read my five tips. Amazing! I probably should have got them to write this post. Anyway, I hope the tips help. Don’t stress, you’ll be fine. And if you have any questions you want me to answer, feel free to ask, email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll try to give you a response, or at very least, I’ll be honest and tell you I don’t know. I learned that from a blog post.
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