The email at the top of my inbox was from a college student who had grown up in a Christian home, attended a Christian school, and had strong Christian influences. It simply read: “I’m not sure I believe in God any more.”
I made a phone call to talk to this young woman. Something else was going on. I was pretty sure that our conversation would reveal the answer. As we talked, the confession came out: “I’m in love with my boyfriend and he’s not sure about God. And to tell you the truth, I’m not sure I am either.”
Christianity has emphasized the necessity of good morals. Morals come from believing the right things about God and self. Yet experientially, many people abandon their beliefs not because the truth isn’t compelling but because their personal choices do not align with Christian ethics. Which is easier to adjust – your lifestyle and daily choices or your unseen beliefs?
Most people’s convictions about right and wrong are not constructed first. Daily choices shape their beliefs about right and wrong. People tend to justify their behavior by modifying their beliefs.
How, then, do we help people see the compelling nature of Christianity? First, people need assistance to see that their daily choices are not as satisfying as they think they are. People want to live for more than this moment, but the message of our culture is to live for the “now.” Feel good. Live for the moment. But heartache abounds with this lifestyle.
Second, people change not because of a well-reasoned argument, but because the truth is seen to be more compelling and beautiful. Truth is not merely propositional – there is more to truth than statements and facts. Truth is also appealing and beautiful. Truth appeals to the mind AND the heart. Arguments alone don’t change people’s minds; compelling beauty that resonates with the soul does.
Third, change happens when the disposition of someone is more gracious and loving than the sphere where we are. Have you ever had an argument with someone and walked away more entrenched in your own position because the person verbally dominated the conversation or was sharp and harsh? Contrast this person with a gentle, honest, patient, and kind individual who seeks to persuade you and loves you enough not to back away when the conversations get awkward but pursues you.
As Paul said to Timothy, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). Our aim is to be compelling Christians who love people by pointing out that their choices will lead them to unsatisfying results and by painting a picture of the more glorious way of Jesus.
When I got off the phone, the young woman knew that her boyfriend had been leading her away from the Lord. I had offered to help her with the conversation with her boyfriend. In the end, she made the hard choice to break up with him and pursue the Lord. And today she is a faithful Christian with a godly husband and a lovely family. And she would tell you that the best thing that happened to her was seeing that there was a more beautiful option for her in Christ.
Won’t you help people see that truth is not just for the mind but also for the heart?
Praying to see Christ’s Beauty,
Missional Action Plan: How does the Christian message offer a more glorious hope now and in the future? How can you share the good news in a way that is compelling to people?
Missional Action Prayer: Lord, help me to love people so much that I share the hope of Christ with a compelling witness. Help me to love people so much that I want their eternal joy and can point them to the glory of Christ. Amen.