Have you ever noticed that Jesus never got into a lengthy debate about doctrine or theology? That’s not to say that He didn’t answer his critics from time to time to shut down their argument. Still, he changed lives. When you decide that you are going to positively influence others with the gospel, you are likely to encounter someone that wants to debate and as Christians, it’s sometimes hard to resist. The problem is, debates don’t win people to Christ, loving them and demonstrating what it means to be a disciple does.
Paul described his approach to the church in Corinth this way…
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:1–2 (ESV)
He didn’t try to out debate them. He just talked about Jesus and what He had done for him. Somewhere the church got lost in the last few hundred years and we began to prize belief systems over hearts changed by Jesus. I don’t think it’s any consequence that at the same time, the influence of the church not only decreased, but at times it no longer even looked like Jesus, anymore. Even today, many churches are known by their arguments, disagreements, and their beliefs are worn like a chip on their shoulder.
But Jesus didn’t influence people that way. He told them who He was, gave great grace, showed incredible love, and taught them how to follow Him. Arguments and debates don’t win people to Jesus…grace, truth, and love does. As you allow your life to intermingle with others, consider the kinds of conversations you are having about Jesus. Do they follow the same pattern as our Savior?
Truth: Jesus is the focus, not belief systems.
Question: When you have conversations with people about God, what is the focus of your discussion?