When people don’t care…

23 Apr

Earlier this year I surveyed students at UCF to hear their thoughts about the truth content of religious texts. My approach was to ask “Do you think religious texts contain truth?” and to follow up that question with “how can you tell?” The hope was to engage them in a discussion about the nature of spiritual truth and ultimately point to Jesus as a possible source.

I ran into one young woman who was completely disinterested. She had not read any religious texts but admitted that they might have some “small facts.” I said “That’s ok; lots of people haven’t [read those types of books]. If someone were to hand you a religious book today, like the Koran for example – how would you decide if it was true or not?” She responded that she wouldn’t know.

I decided to switch gears and ask if she had any interest in spiritual things (almost always a surefire “yes” and a road to fruitful dialogue) and she said “not really.” And herein lies the rub.

It seems that there are two possible responses by the Christian:

a)      Acknowledge that we cannot convict someone; that is the role of the Holy Spirit. If a person is uninterested we should continue to pray for them but wait until they become interested before pursuing the conversation.

b)      Acknowledge the role of the Holy Spirit but also embrace our role as Kingdom ambassadors and heralds. Assuming this role we try to draw out a person’s inner longing for God (which we – for reasons beyond the scope of this post – assume is there) using whatever means seem best.

Option A is the route I take with friends, family and folks with whom I am in sustained relationship. There will be continued opportunities (barring any unforeseen tragedy) and to push the envelope is to overpower the sweet aroma of Jesus with my own B.O.

However, when I am speaking with a person I don’t know I feel differently. Ideally, I will become this person’s friend and we can have an ongoing dialogue – but if that doesn’t happen it seems best to try to plant a seed, a sort of spiritual inception.

I have tried various approaches, including but not limited to presenting them with The Absurdity of Life Without God, asking them what they think happens when we die, praying for them right there, or just giving up. In this instance I chose to encourage her to consider reading the Gospels. I told her “The Bible is arguably the most influential book in Western civilization – it might be worth reading just so you can know some trivia for cocktail parties. Have you ever heard the term ‘Good Samaritan?’” She said that she had, and I proceeded to explain that it is from one of Jesus’ stories. I then shared the parable with her. She seemed vaguely interested but had to get back to studying frog embryos, so I left her.

I have more questions than answers when it comes to interacting with folks who are apathetic to spiritual things, but I hope to keep running into them as I continue to discern the most loving way to be a witness to this population.

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3 Responses to “When people don’t care…”

  1. Lynn Wimmer April 23, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    I love your way with words, almost as much as God’s way with the Word!

    • stevewimmer April 23, 2012 at 10:14 am #

      Thanks mom! (note: the reason she wasn’t struck with lightning is the fact that she is my biological mother – if anyone else is tempted to leave such high praise, please reconsider)

  2. Shawnlei Breeding April 23, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    “to push the envelope is to overpower the sweet aroma of Jesus with my own B.O.” Loved that. Good reminder.

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