In the past couple of weeks I have had conversations with people who at best, are seeking to understand Christianity, at worst, are not interested. It has been eye-opening and heart-breaking to hear where they are, the anger and hurt they feel toward God, whether they name Him as God or not. The baggage and burdens they carry are heavy, cumbersome, and over the years have permanently changed how they walk and view the world.
With their burdens pulling them down, it is foolish to tell them to look up to God and He will make everything all better. They are only able to see the ground in front of them. If I want to earn the right to be heard, I must first listen. If I want them to know the joy of letting their burdens go, the release of dropping them at Jesus’ feet, then I need to first acknowledge they are carrying it.
As a believer, my news feed is often full of, If you believe this is true, type Amen and Share. I often shake my head because this is not the way to impact the world for Jesus. It isn’t going to be a text message, post to social media, billboard, or any other general population notice that will truly touch the heart of a person who is seeking Christ. It is going to be the same intimacy that He gave to those who met Him during His ministry. The woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the man whose daughter was dying, the centurion who had an ill son. These people met Him one-on-one and their lives were changed.
That’s how it is with those around us today. We meet them for coffee, dinner, a movie, a walk, a chat. Again and again, if necessary, until we’ve built a relationship with them. Then we will have the freedom to speak with them about the Jesus we love, the Jesus who loves them. When the trust, value, and time is there we can share. Until then, it might just be time to be silent and time to listen. Honor their story. Who they are, where they are in their journey and trust God to do the rest.
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak. . . (Ecclesiastes 3:7)