I have read the Bible many times. Certain books and chapters received more re-readings than others, but I have read the whole thing through 3 or 4 times. At one time in my life, reading the Bible was very important. I wanted to talk to others about what I was reading, as you do when you get excited about anything in your life. I wanted to share. I was so excited I didn’t notice when others became uncomfortable.
It’s been many years since I have called myself a Christian. I’ve been an agnostic for twice the amount of time I was a follower of Jesus. I don’t engage in conversations about the Bible; in fact, I would probably leave a room where the Bible or Jesus were being discussed. I have very little desire to argue with Christians about their beliefs.
I think for the most part, Christians enter into “Biblical talk” in a way that makes nonbelievers feel alienated. Quoting chapter and verse at me is an easy way to get me to tune you out. I feel extremely uncomfortable when people ask me if they can pray for me, especially if they want to pray for me right there and then.
I think there are ways to share your Christianity with non-Christians in a less ‘in your face’ way.
Let’s say you see someone who needs a boost. Maybe a friend is going to ask for a raise or try something new and you want to encourage them. You can say, ‘be strong and courageous! You got this! We’re with you!’ Tada! You have used Joshua 1:9 and Deuteronomy 31:6! You have not made your friend uncomfortable and you have used the Bible to be helpful to someone. In this way you have said a silent prayer to your god on their behalf.
Maybe a friend is mourning the loss of someone in their life. Instead of saying, “blessed are they who mourn for they will be comforted,” (Matthew 5:4) be the comfort! Hug your friend, bring them a casserole for the freezer, walk their dog with them, or take them out for dinner. In this way your actions are a prayer. In this way you are the fulfillment of Matthew 5:16, (“In the same way let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”) without forcing your god on someone.
If I am feeling depressed, it does not comfort me to hear Isaiah 41:10 (“So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”) Instead if you were to think of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (“Praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God”)—if instead you took comfort in your god and used that strength to be a comfort to me, you have done what your god has asked of you, and you have done so in a way does not cause me any more stress of discomfort.
I am not trying to tell all Christians to hide their beliefs from their non-Christian friends. Obviously, your god doesn’t want you to do that either, as seen in the above verses. I just wish my Christian friends would be a bit more sensitive about when and where they quote scripture at me. I wish Christians would try to be the Bible verses they turn to instead of merely repeating them aloud.
If a non-Christian friend of yours needs a prayer (in your opinion), who are you actually serving by praying for them out loud in their face? Aren’t you just making yourself feel better about their situation? And what glory does it bring to your god to comfort your own self when a friend is the one with the need? By all means, tell them they will be in your thoughts, and say silent or audible prayers for them with others who share your faith.
There are a lot of things, of course, that I am brushing over about the Christian faith. I know your god wants you to tell everyone about Him and bring in the lost sheep etc, etc. But as a non-Christian, your deeds are going to show me your god a lot more than your words. Someday your friend may come to you and to say thank you for your presence in your life and here you will have an opportunity to tell your friend about Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me) but until then, take a quote from Ghandi to heart: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
This post reflects the views of the author, and is intended to start a conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Or, if you’d like to hear some overall thoughts on the Bible from Christians at THRED, you can find those over here.