Have you ever been asked a question that was hard to answer because it meant telling someone that he or she is wrong? When it comes to issues of faith, we get hard questions all the time, and it’s hard to respond to someone who disagrees—especially with those who might get angry about the answer.
I was once asked, “So, you’re a Christian. What does that mean?” It didn’t seem like a hard question. I responded by saying, “Being a Christian means that I believe in the Holy Trinity; I believe that Jesus Christ came to earth to save me from my sins; and I believe that one day Jesus will come again and take believers to heaven.” The person looked at me quizzically. “So, I’m not a Christian. Does that mean you think I’m going to hell?” Ahh … the trap question. I’m sure it’s one you’ve been asked before. Is there a loving response? Is there a way to respond without angering the other person?
Before responding, think first to what 1 John 3:18 says: “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” Know that while you may tell the truth, it is how you as a Christian decide to live out your daily life that will have an effect. Of course, speak the truth in love. It is often not what you say, but how you say it that does good or harm in a disagreement. Proverbs 20:3 says, “It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.”
I was once told that getting in a disagreement with a friend is difficult. I used to argue quite fervently with my Catholic neighbors. Those never ended well; raising our voices, never budging, certain that the others were wrong. After, we would go weeks without getting together or speaking. Instead of having a loving, truthful conversation, we ended up speaking in anger. Sometimes you may win the argument but lose a friend.
In response to the question, I had to be honest. I told the person that I do not know what is in his or her heart, for I cannot condemn others. Then I added that I hoped that the person would believe, repent, and be saved—and I invited my new friend to church. This was only one example, but disagreements about faith can be a part of many topics: science, morals or ethics, relationships, politics, or other religions. If someone gets angry at you for stating your belief, speak to that person in love. Respond with kindness. Be respectful but firm. By no means compromise your faith for the sake of pleasing others. There will always be hard questions; answer them with truth and love, and leave the rest to God.
Be prepared to defend your faith when the hard questions come. Download a free preview of The Reason I Believe.