Teaching Our Kids to Look to the Gospel in the Midst of Hate

My wife told me the other day that she needs to stop watching the news and scrolling through social media. It’s too depressing and frustrating. 

Frankly, I agree. 

Whether on the streets, over social media, or even in the news—we are becoming more and more divided. Yet I keep watching. On the one hand, my heart is breaking from the hate that has begun (if not already) to boil over. But on the other hand, I’m looking for any indication of hope—any sliver of light piercing through the cracks of our broken world.  

On the day of the Space X launch, we gathered as a family around the TV to watch. It was indeed a moment worth stopping for. Not just because one of my kids is obsessed with all things space, but because historically, these kinds of events have a way of pausing the nation and uniting us—even if for only a moment. Instead, I was awakened to a much harsher reality, and at the same time caught a glimpse of that hope I was looking for.

My oldest began reading the ticker across the bottom of the screen and asking questions about George Floyd and the protests. Of course, I was glad she was asking the right questions. Still, I suddenly realized that I now had to intentionally help my kids navigate this, process this, and perhaps in some cases, be able to respond to this inside their biblical framework. 

I admit I was caught a little off guard. Aren’t we all when our kids suddenly show signs of growing up. It doesn’t matter how well prepared we think we are—we never are. So we have to learn to pivot by intently listening to our kids’ questions, respond appropriately, and lead the way in their walk with Jesus. Because their questions are critically important.

Why would people hate each other based on the way they look? 

There are two things at play in this question. First is the innocence of a child. To many kids, the sheer idea of racism is ludicrous. It’s not that they don’t see color; instead, they embrace it. What’s a world without color? 

What so many of our kids know without really knowing is that if humanity is the pinnacle of God’s creation, there is no conceivable way God would be so boring as to make everyone look alike. Our differences, according to my 9-year-old, are just an expression of God’s creativity. And just like a really colorful picture, we celebrate the beauty. 

Second is the normalcy of diversity. While so many parents and grandparents were raised in mostly homogenous communities—with socio-economic, cultural, and racial similarities—our students simply don’t see the world the way we do. And thank God for that. Diversity is more than just normal, it’s expected. 

This question, and others like it, are a chance to revisit the beauty and majesty of God’s creation. When we do, we are opening the doors for a much more in-depth and life-giving conversation. 

“Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:19-20

Why can’t people just love each other? 

It’s easy to forget, easy to push aside, and easy to redefine on our own terms—but sin is a real thing. And at this moment, it’s showing its ugly face. 

Hate is easier than love. Hate takes almost no effort. It often feels justified and empowering. But it’s not. Hate tears us all down, strips us of our dignity and our hope. It’s simple, really. Hate does not help. In fact, it makes it worse. 

What I think our kids are picking up on is the world’s disenchanted view of reality. When we turn on the news, what we can see under the surface is a good and strong desire to make the world a better place—to seek justice, protect the poor and marginalized, and allow the voice of the people to be heard. But this desire and the activism it creates falls far short because we fail to see reality through the eyes of the gospel. Instead we embrace the ideologies of materialism, hedonism, and utilitarianism. It’s a false sense of reality fueled by hate, rather than genuine love fueled by the Spirit of God. 

No, I didn’t explain all of that to my kids. But here is what I did remind them. The Bible clearly teaches us as followers of Jesus to look out for the poor and oppressed, to see through our differences—whether racial, cultural, or financial—and get to the heart of a person. We are taught to love our neighbors unconditionally, pray for those who persecute us, and be such good people that it baffles others. But here’s the thing: All the good we do, is nothing short of failure without the gospel. The message of salvation through Jesus serves as the engine that drives any lasting social change. 

So how do we help fix it? It Starts with Family Ministry

There are few things I love more inside of youth culture than their willingness to dive in and effect change. But how they do that is critical and involves exploring one of the most crucial questions of the modern era for every young Christian. 

I love how Leslie Newbigin asks it. 

“What would be involved in a missionary encounter between the gospel and this whole of perceiving, thinking, and living that we call the ‘modern western culture'”? – Leslie Newbigin

The discipleship of our students needs to involve training them to build a bridge between the world as it is and the world God’s desires for us to create. It is the work of transforming culture and even creating culture, to dive into the social structure of culture so the gospel could be both reasonable and desirable. This is precisely what Jesus meant by going into all the world to make disciples and to be witnesses to ends of the earth. 

The answer to Newbigin’s question begins with teaching our students to become cultural apologists. As Paul Gould, author of Cultural Apologetics, says, it is the “work of establishing the Christian voice, conscience, and imagination within a culture so that Christianity is seen as true and satisfying.” This is the work that stands before our students.

I believe that the unrest, hate, and division we see in our world is cry for help. It’s a cry for hope. But there is no legislation, no erasure of history, or admittance of privilege that will satisfy our culture’s longing for goodness, truth, and beauty.

Only the gospel can do that. 

Your Students Need an Intellectual Faith Too. Here’s Why…And How.

A few years ago, I met a student named Drew. He was brilliant but incredibly lazy and quite possibly a professional skeptic. He had this signature way of sitting at his desk that told a greater story than even his words could. Slumped over, head resting comfortably in his hand, doodling on his paper; there was no one more disinterested in my discussions about Jesus. But Drew wasn’t the only one. In fact, most of my students wanted little to do with learning about Jesus, God, theology, the Bible—you name it; if it had something to do with their faith, they couldn’t have cared less. Needless to say, they didn’t have much of an intellectual faith. But put that same group of students in chapel or at a retreat and you would see them hands held high, worshipping with everything they have.

I pressed on. I continued to challenge Drew and his fellow students. Some of the parents caught wind of what I was trying to do. Initially, I was relieved, hoping that if I could gain the support of parents, perhaps I could reach the students a little faster and with greater success. Nope. Parents were losing their minds. For most of them, faith was not something that ought to be driven by intellect but by emotion. They were convinced that challenging students to think about their faith would create unnecessary doubt and frustration. Intellectual engagement was much too risky. “What if God is too difficult to understand and they walk away from their faith?” These parents were following Christ and raising their sons and daughters to be disciples from a place of fear. They thought if their students’ faith would be allowed to enter and influence their secular sphere of life, it might not stand a chance.

Nearly every youth group faces the same challenge—fear that too great a challenge will drive them from Jesus rather than to Him. It comes as no surprise that there is an increasing number of students who lack even a simple understanding of the Bible. We can no longer assume students know who Moses, Abraham, Peter, and Paul are. The more post-Christian we become, the more we can’t assume students can locate Bible books, chapters, and verses. Verse memorization is a thing of the past; the character of God, forgotten; critical thinking about matters of faith, ignored. It won’t be long before youth ministry is working to reach students who have grown up in a home having never stepped into a church with very little or even no knowledge of Jesus. The solution has largely become the perpetual feeding of spiritual milk to our students. Teaching to the lowest common denominator comes with less risk—or so we have allowed ourselves to believe. 

Finding an Intelligent Faith

How can we expect students to enter a post-Christian culture without a full and mature knowledge of Jesus? How will they make mature decisions without a Christ-like mind?

I’m all for emotionally charged worship and that overwhelming feeling of the Spirit of God moving through a room; the kind that gives you goose bumps, tears in your eyes, and the undeniable need to create spiritual movement. I love being at youth conferences and witnessing firsthand Spirit-filled worship, students coming to the front to give their lives to Jesus, and tears of joy flooding a room. Worship has a way of capturing our imagination and transporting us to the throne room of God. It’s a sight that I never get tired of. But what informs that emotion? What informs the love that our students so boldly proclaim? It’s their mind and the depth of their knowledge of God. It’s easy to forget in our emotionally driven culture that there is an intellectual core to our Christian faith. It’s impossible to love God without a desire to understand more about Him. Remember that the greatest command is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matt. 22:37, author’s emphasis).

Think about the movies your students watch, the music they listen to, their searches on the Internet, conduct at school, or even their perception of events around the world. Do they filter those things through a Christian worldview? Or do they allow them to shape their worldview? Now, think about how you approach these with your students.

As leaders of youth, we have an important decision to make. Either we ignore the cultural influences surrounding our youth and hope the emotional highs and Sunday school lessons are enough, or we stand with our students and guide them through events, music, movies, politics, and social pressures so they can meet these challenges head-on with a Christian worldview, thereby actually strengthening their faith for the continued journey ahead. The reality is our students need more than just an intelligent faith; they need a mature faith. Our students are up against secularism, skepticism, and alternative forms of spirituality, and they lack the context for how to infiltrate and transform their world with the gospel.

Adding An Emotional Faith

I didn’t give up on Drew, the class, or their parents. I’m pretty stubborn, so I dug my heels in deeper. I was convinced if I could just reach my goal, drag them through the rest of the year, they would see what I was at least trying to do. A year went by; they were still quite skeptical. Two years passed; they loosened their grip a little bit. By year three, my efforts to infuse a more intellectual faith into their already vibrant, emotionally-driven experience of Jesus began to pay off. They were getting it because they were witnessing the benefits and exponential growth in their students. The fear of what might happen to their students’ faith was overshadowed by the anticipation of what could happen through their students’ faith.

A strong intellectual faith, coupled with parents’ and students’ desire for emotional moments, became the beginning of a formula that I soon required anywhere I taught. I had four specific goals I was after to make my students more mature Christians who think “Christianly”:

  • Create a greater excitement for God and a deeper appreciation for their salvation.
  • Help students successfully deal with doubt and questions.
  • Make worship more intense and emotional.
  • Prepare students to be able to not only engage culture but transform it.

There are many ways to make this happen. But I have three that can work at dinner, in youth group, or with a small group meeting. 

Learn from Experiences 

The first practice after a Friday night football game was Saturday morning practice. The goal wasn’t to run, or hit, or go over plays. The day after practice was designed for two specific things: to lick our wounds and watch game film. We needed to rest, but more than that, we needed to see as soon as possible what we did right and what we did wrong. We learn by doing, making mistakes, and correcting those mistakes—our brains are wired that way. So when you think of experiences to grow your students into mature thinking Christians, they need the space to try, to succeed, to fail, to review how it unfolded, and learn from the experience.

Theological Training 

There is genuine excitement that comes from wrestling with God. There is a certain satisfaction that comes from a faith driven by an intense desire to understand Him. Such depth comes only from the discipline of theological study. But I can almost hear what you’re thinking. You don’t need to be a professional theologian to be a disciple. You don’t need a seminary degree or to read old, dusty books on exegetical fallacies or multi-volume commentaries—although the theology nerd in me would suggest that you do. Certainly, we cannot expect our students to dive that deep—although some will. Can they really handle such complex ideas? Yes, and they want to, because we are all theologians—because we all think about God and live accordingly. No matter what level our students enter the journey, it begins when they desire to seek a deeper understanding of who God is and what it means to put their trust in Jesus. What we think about Jesus informs how we feel about Him and how we live out that belief.

Cultivate Creativity

About ten years ago, we sounded the alarm because the Millennial generation was leaving the church in droves with no sign of return. The church tried being more relevant, created big events and the superstar youth pastor. Maybe better music would work, we thought. Or perhaps better games, and exchanging exegetical sermons for motivational speeches would do the trick. Over the last decade, none of these things has made a positive impact on discipling our students. Instead, what we discovered was that in our efforts to create specific spaces for teens—to accomplish these new-fangled goals—we siloed our youth off from the rest of the church. But what does youth leaving the church have to do with creativity?

God has gifted each of us—students included—with the ability to create. The church ought to be a place where that creativity is birthed and nurtured. But that can’t happen for students who have no place in the wide sphere of the church community because they have been separated since birth. 

Conclusion

While it certainly is not a guaranteed fix or some kind of secret formula to highly effective disciples, helping students think in Christian categories helps them to create a framework of how both sides of their brain can work in concert to best represent God and His kingdom. It helps join together creativity and logic and puts it into action. In our final chapter, we will dissect specifically how our students’ creativity can make an immediate impact in the church as well as how they interact with the world in the years to come.

Disciple Making 101: 4 Key Practices To Start Today

When my first daughter was born, I remember thinking about discipleship. I remember thinking the path to my kids following Jesus faithfully was a simple formula of good behavior and church attendance. That was more than eleven years ago. Although my intentions were great, my methods were lacking in so many ways. Of course church fellowship is necessary. As well as manners, virtue, good behavior, and respect–all a huge part of the process. But the single greatest thing I have learned is the need for intentionality. Especially in four specific areas.

Biblical literacy

I have a couple of old Bibles sitting on a shelf in our living room. One of those Bibles is my grandfather’s. It’s marked up and falling apart, but you can feel his faith emanating off the pages. It’s one of the very few things I treasure. Also on the shelf is my first Bible. But mine is in near perfect condition. One morning, my kids were asking about why those Bibles, in particular, were sitting on the shelf, out of reach. I walked over to the shelf, took them down, and brought them to the table.

I talked about the significance of my grandfather’s Bible compared to mine. One used, the other not. I explained how my Bible was indicative of my faith growing up—in “like new” condition and never used. The truth is, I really only learned two things in Sunday school—John 3:16 and to not hit people with your Bible. I brought my Bible every week to church, I don’t remember ever cracking it open, reading passages, or asking questions. In fact, I am even willing to admit that I never read a complete book of the Bible until seminary.

My goal is to make sure my kids’ Bibles are just like my grandfather’s. Worn and tattered. Evidence of a faith well-practiced. It is my aim to talk about the Word every chance we get, encourage my kids to read—even if they don’t fully understand—ask questions and pursue more than just knowledge of the Word but of the Word Himself.

Cultural awareness

One of the joys of my ministry is that I get to meet a lot of parents. And when it comes to cultural awareness, I generally see two very different approaches. There is one kind of parent that buries their head in the sand and invites their kids to do the same. “if we ignore it, maybe it will all go away, or Jesus will just come back.” All the while never really preparing their kids for the road ahead. The other kind of parent is the one who exposes their kids to culture with almost no filter. Of course, as good Christian parents, the hope is that exposure will lead to effective evangelism. But without proper filters, sin and temptation will win almost every time.

It is our job to be the filter. To not only help our kids navigate culture but to properly interpret its message in light of a biblical framework and to respond as much like Jesus as possible. We aren’t meant to hide from culture, nor succumb to it. Instead, we ought to teach our kids how to create a better culture—one that reflects the glory and image of the Creator.

Pursuit of truth

Every time I read Genesis, I ask myself the same question, “why are lies easier to believe than truth?” Adam and Eve had the very voice of God to explain the ground rules. They had a direct line—a guaranteed blessing. Yet one word from the enemy and they fly off the rails. Big surprise, we all do the same thing.

The lies are often so loud it becomes deafening. All the more reason our homes need to be beacons of what is true. We need to be showing our kids the path that leads to truth and walking that path with them. The lies are so seductive that even when students are fully equipped, they can fall victim. Adam and Eve did. What makes us any better? Help your kids identify the lies and point them to truth and walk that struggle with them.

Living on mission

Take a minute and try something. Teach your kids to do something without actually showing them, just explaining it. Pick anything—from the simplest math skills to driving a car. Don’t show, just tell them how. See what happens. My guess is that you already know what would happen. They would fail. Yet this is precisely what we do with God’s missional mandate to the church. We want, and perhaps expect, our students to reflect Jesus in every way, to talk about him to their friends, even pursue a call to “full-time ministry.” However, we spend little to no time showing them what that looks like.

As parents, the first place our kids learn what it means to love their neighbors, to serve others, to be witnesses, and to make disciples should not be in church, mission trip, or outreach event. It should be learned as part of the family routine—as normal as eating breakfast or brushing your teeth. It’s really rather simple: Families that serve together have a greater and more lasting impact on their world.

None of these are automatic or easy. They require planning, trial and error, and persistence. Like it or not, discipling our kids is a full time calling. One that, in time, will reap greater rewards than you ever thought possible.

What Would Happen If You Fully Invested in Your Student’s Creative Potential?…Yes They Are Creative.

During my first years of ministry, I had a bit of an attitude problem. I felt since I was pursuing a seminary degree my church should somehow automatically let me teach and preach sermons. Yeah, I was a little arrogant. I remember sitting in my pastor’s office, essentially complaining that I wasn’t getting the respect I thought I deserved. As he patiently listened, he smiled, walked over to his desk, grabbed his Bible and started thumbing through it. I didn’t pay much attention to what he was doing until he cut me off mid-sentence, handed me his Bible and said, “Read this.”

I was a seminary student, I thought, so who was he to hand me a passage of Scripture like I hadn’t heard of it? In fact, I was certain that I probably dissected the passage in Greek. But I read it anyway. I read it begrudgingly, but I read it. After I finished, we talked about it for a bit. I nodded as if I understood and appreciated the time and insight. Truth is, I left that room not fully grasping what God was trying to teach me. 

As I finished my degree and matured in ministry, I came back to the passage over and over. It haunted me. It was like God would not let me forget it until I learned the lesson I needed to learn. I caught it when I finished my first year of teaching. 

The passage is about a master who takes a journey (Matthew 25:14–30). But before he leaves, he entrusts his servants with varying amounts of his wealth to manage. Most of the servants manage what the master entrusts to them by making wise investments and getting a worthwhile return for their efforts. But one of the servants decided to do something different. Instead of investing, he buried what was entrusted to him out of fear. Naturally, when the master returns, he is thrilled with all the servants but the one. Why? Because he failed to take proper care with what he was given. It wasn’t his, but his to manage. The master not only strips the lazy servant of what little he does have but gives the others more. 

I struggled in my early days of ministry, not because I was arrogant or felt I wasn’t being respected (okay, I was, and I did), but because I didn’t have a grasp on what God had given me, how I should invest it, and how it would contribute to the kingdom. I had a hard time finding my place within the church and finding community. The struggle ended up creating unnecessary tension and resentment toward others who were serving, my pastors, and even the church as a whole. I saw no reason to invest because I had little clue as to what I could offer. 

Here’s the thing—many of our students feel the same way. But you probably do a spiritual gifts inventory or have skillfully identified the musical students, the outgoing ones, the techy ones, and the creative ones. So that’s good, right? Not quite. While those certainly help and you could add in a Meyers-Briggs personality test, a DISC assessment, or everyone’s new favorite Enneagram—none of these are getting to the root of what my pastor was trying to teach me. Of course, there is nothing wrong with having students sign-up to be greeters, leading worship in the band, or working the soundboard. In fact, there is a ton right with those things. The more you get students engaged and invested in your community, the higher degree of commitment you’re going to receive. 

But what do you do with the introverted kid, the math kid, the writer, or the computer nerd? It slips past us when we aren’t looking, but if a student can’t contribute somehow to the production of youth group time, and they don’t want to shake hands and smile at the newcomers, then we rest contently while they passively sit in a chair for the evening. For many of us, that is where our gifts assessment ends. Why concern ourselves if the student’s gift doesn’t fit into the context of youth group? 

Because if we don’t help students walk this path, they will be missing a key piece of discipleship—investment. Jesus tells the story because He knows how easy it is to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, then sit back and do nothing. It’s easy to make excuses for why we can’t evangelize, why our churches aren’t growing, and why we aren’t making a difference in our communities, schools, and families. It’s easy to be the wicked, lazy servant. I actually think, for some of us, it’s not all that difficult to sympathize with Him just a little bit. But as we work to grow our students spiritually into mature disciples, there are three truths I want to give you which will help steer us clear from the attitude and fear of the wicked lazy servant. 

Students are creative

It’s incredible to think God created each one of us uniquely in His image. When you look at the variety of personalities, gifts, and physical traits of a person, it’s hard to wrap our minds around the creativity of God. It’s not just that God is the Almighty Creator, but He is also creative. Everything you can touch, taste, smell, see, and hear, came out of the creative mind of God—from nothing. Everything we know—and the stuff we haven’t even discovered yet—originated from the divine creative mind. But there is something far too many Christians seem to forget—or perhaps never learned. 

We are co-creators with God. We have been created to create. Think about it. In the creative mind of God, He knew before the foundation of the world that humanity would need to create cities, governments, and economies. He knew there would be a need for teachers, doctors, lawyers, writers, artists, construction workers, and mathematicians. He knew humanity would invent cars, planes, computers, and the internet. And because we are created in His image, every good thing we create has a divine imprint. 

Every one of our students—whether they consider themselves creative or not—are in fact, creative. In whatever way God has gifted them, what they are passionate about, and just really good at, they have the divine mandate to use who they are in Christ to be creative. However, our students may not be keenly aware of what that could look like for them, so it’s our job as youth leaders and parents to help them discover and walk that path. 

Students have a craft

I think it’s easy to wonder just a little why the master was so upset with the last servant. He didn’t lose any money, and he gladly returned what was originally given. It’s about potential. What the master gave each servant had incredible potential. In fact, the master never intended for the servants to just maintain his wealth, the intention was to multiply it. Each of the servants held more than just the master’s wealth; they held and were given responsibility over potential wealth. So when the lazy servant buried his portion out of fear, the master actually suffered a net loss, because he lost what could have been. 

Whether you prefer to quote Voltaire or Uncle Ben Parker from Spider Man, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Our students have each been given incredible gifts with infinite potential—gifts designed to reflect the image and glory of God and further His kingdom. But if all we are recognizing are the skills of the kid who plays guitar or the one who can run the soundboard, then we are burying any potential the rest of our students would have had. 

Therefore, we have to help our students discover their creative calling and fully realize their potential to take who they are, what they love, and what they can create—and how they can uniquely point others to Christ.

They all have a canvas

God has asked all of us to be disciples by being holy and fully realizing our intended purpose as people created in His image, but we show what that looks like through what we love, what we are good at, and the people in our lives. The same is true for our students. 

If you struck up a conversation with me, it wouldn’t take long to discover that I am not a math guy. I don’t like it. I’m not good at it. For whatever reason, my brain just isn’t wired to speak that language. So as a teacher, I would often joke about math being evil. That was until a student of mine named Tony wrote a brilliant paper. In fact, it was so good that it was published in a book I had written featuring several students. He argued that there are only two things we know of considered to be necessarily existent. Which basically means, something is existent in and of itself, nothing created it. It just is. Those two things are math and God. The idea was that if math and God are existent in the same way and much of the universe we can explain using math, then perhaps math is the language of God. Well, that was enough to stop me from calling math evil, to say the least. 

It’s one thing to see the youth band’s worship leader using her life as a canvas to showcase the creative work of God Almighty. Maybe she listens to worship music, writes a few of her own songs, and even sees the deeper theology behind the music. But it’s another thing to see how Tony found a way to showcase God’s creative work through math. Tony found how math could be creative and be his canvas. 

We need more students like Tony, and we need more leaders to recognize that kind of creative ability. Instead of math, maybe it’s a knack for business, acting, history, woodworking, engineering, or even baking cookies. These are the makings of the masterpieces God is at work creating in and through your students. 

How are you helping your students fully invest in their creative potential? 

Making Disciples Means Building Relationships

Think about the last time you had a disagreement. It could have been about sports, politics, movies, or perhaps a more personal topic—like your faith. When you left the conversation, did you feel like you managed to make your point? Did you feel like there was any kind of mutual agreement reached—even if it meant agreeing to disagree? Often our failure (or the failure of another) to see an alternative viewpoint has a lot to do with delivery. 

Several years ago, I struck up a conversation with a man preaching the gospel on a street corner in Los Angeles. I noticed him because he was doing quite a bit of yelling at people about going to hell. Yet not one person, while I stood and watched, paid any attention to him or took his materials. I asked him why he thought that was. He just shook his head and said he trusted God to turn their hearts. While I applaud his faith in God’s ability and desire to change the hearts of people, I suggested that perhaps his methods could better represent the God he wanted them to follow. 

The Apostle Peter’s first letter is addressed to Roman Christians, who were faced with some intense suffering and persecution as a result of their faith in Christ. He reminds them that even in the midst of what might look like a dire situation, how they represent Christ matters. No matter the harm a person intends, no matter what a person says about you or actions they take against you, do good and be above reproach (1 Peter 3:13-14). Because when we set Christ apart as Lord, we have nothing to fear. 

But just as our actions speak volumes about who and what we put our faith in, our words ought to give the reason behind those actions. But because both word and deed matter, how their words were expressed would matter just as much. The command is to always be prepared to give an answer—to always be ready to offer why, despite the persecution, their hopes remained in Christ (v. 15). However, doing so required supernatural levels of gentleness and respect. Doing so would prove to be the ultimate display of Christ-likeness, “so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (v.16). 

Our effective witness to others as followers of Christ is so much more than just communicating the gospel when given the opportunity. It’s more than just talking about Jesus and asking another person to “accept” Jesus. Effective disciple-making requires the formation of a relationship—even if that relationship is only for a small moment in time. It requires us to listen to another’s story, their concerns, objections, frustrations, and questions—and to do so with gentleness and respect. For you, it may not be a matter of solidarity in the face of persecution. It may, however, be more about giving another a reason to hear you when you do share the gospel. Peter’s words are still as relevant now as they were then. 

How we share, Christ, is just as important as what we share about him. Our gentleness and respect towards others, our insistence on listening, and persistence to create valuable relationships are critical if we hope to create the necessary inroads for the gospel. Remember, as ambassadors of Christ, you may be the only Bible a person ever reads and the only Jesus they ever meet.

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