I used to think the only way to share Jesus was to answer people’s questions, whether they were asking them or not! That’s right. I was a religious “know-it-all.”
Don’t get me wrong. We need to know what the Bible says about salvation, and there is nothing wrong with anticipating questions people should be asking about eternity. We must be life-long learners, and need to be prepared to defend our faith. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Col 4:6 NIV)
Still, we don’t ask unbelievers enough questions. Let me explain.
Many years ago, in the town of Dayton, Virginia, the Ruebush-Kiefer Publishing Company was the largest producer of music in the state. The success of the publishing company enriched the entire community, creating growth in the local Shenandoah College and Conservatory of Music, and nurtured a thriving environment for writers, poets and musicians. I recently visited Dayton and was captivated by this incredible story.
Then something changed. A seismic cultural shift occurred that would forever alter the course of Dayton, Virginia. What was it?
Shapes notes were replaced by round notes.
That’s right. At one time a system of shaped notes (which is a bit too complicated to explain here) was thought to make learning music easier, especially for church congregations. But when round notes became the rage, people stopped buying the old kind of music.
Unfortunately, the Ruebush-Kiefer Publishing Company used shaped notes. In time, the company went under, the Shenandoah College and Conservatory of Music had to move to another town, and many of side benefits of these endeavors in Dayton dried up.
When I learned about this story, I tried to find out why the Ruebush-Kiefer Publishing Company didn’t start printing round notes., but was unsuccessful. Maybe the investment in new equipment was too great, or perhaps they thought the round notes were a passing fad. For whatever reason, the company failed to make the trip to the new system, and an entire creative system in a community fell apart.
As believers, we have the greatest message in the world! What could be better than finding redemption from our sins and the gift of eternal life through Jesus? Our world has never been more hopeless and ready to embrace what we have to give.
But I fear, one reason we aren’t able to share as we should is we are too busy using shaped notes and don’t realize the rest of the world is using round ones. In others words, we have overlooked significant changes in our culture, and don’t comprehend the level of disconnect that exists between our message and people’s hearts and minds.
I am not suggesting we change our message, or water down the truth to appeal to our culture. I merely believe we need to ask more questions. We need to understand people better if we want to show them how Jesus can change their lives. Otherwise, they will just smile courteously, and walk away without understanding.
When we Pray for One, we can ask God to teach us to ask more questions. Asking questions is a good way to get to know our “one.”
We might not always agree with what people have to tell us, but at least we will know what’s on their minds. If we don’t know what people are thinking, how can we possibly show them how Christ can meet their need?
Ask more questions. The answers might surprise you.