“Someone asked, ‘Will the heathen who have never heard the Gospel be saved?’ It is more a question with me whether we — who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not — can be saved.”
I remember long ago in my life to the days of high school, thinking to myself, if I am a Christian, shouldn’t I be drawing people into the gospel. I thought, I have friends who don’t know God, but it seems as if none of them are becoming Christians. I thought then, perhaps I must learn how to save. I wanted to be a competent Christian. I must learn how to evangelize. I wondered to myself, what is it that is missing that causes me not to be able to get my friends to want Christ? I could give them the pamphlet and lead them through the Romans Road, but that seemed to work the best in overseas short term mission trips. What then was the answer?
Toccoa Falls College is home to a vast array of students. Some come from rich homes, some from slightly poorer. They are students versed in the Holy Scriptures, months into their spiritual walk. These students who are in all different walks and pursuing different life goals, how do they answer these questions? To find this out, I asked a couple of students various questions. Some of these included: “how do they perceive you and your Christianity,” “what do they think of God,” and various others.
Gabe Martin is an everyday student at Toccoa Falls College. In his life story, he talks about having three or four close friends who do not know Christ. This is not a number of people who are unsaved that he knows, but strictly a number of close friends who he says he can interact with.
He began talking about how his friends viewed God. He said a lot of them are not quite sure if God exists. Gabe said he felt that it was intellectual reasons holding them back. Like most of our culture today, it seems as if many people hold intellectual reasons or the hypocrisy in the church against it. Martin said that his friends respect him and his views. He said that they view his faith as genuine. Even if the answers are not quite as cut and dry as a text book, he is open to addressing them. He said, “[its] not always easy answers.” Due to this, his friends see his faith not as a result of upbringing or environment, but genuine. Because of this, they now see that God does not have just bad apple.
Martin said it was awkward in the beginning. He said for one of his friends, he started by talking about the book, Blue Like Jazz. For those of you who haven’t read the book, I’d recommend it. It’s funny, and at the same time insightful. During a coffee grab, one of Martin’s friends told him he was atheist. He didn’t let that bother him or make him cast judgment. He was a friend to this kid. In his coffee shop endeavors, he emphasized separating Christ from bad Christians. His parting remarks on speaking to unbelievers were this, “have no anger, have civility in your conversations.” He spoke of showing kindness and not living your life in a dichotomy.
Student Tyler Spence echoed these ideas. He said, “[people] are no different than people here. They’re asking the same questions we ask.”He felt that respect and understanding were key. His friends viewed his Christianity not as hypocritical, but as genuine. His conversations with people who don’t know God usually hinged around asking the questions, “why would a good God allow this or that to happen?” His parting advice, stay focused on lost friends. He wants them to not feel forgotten.
Student Kelsey Hardin has also had some interaction with unbelieving friends. She said they respected her, and also tried to be careful about the language they used around her. They knew she was a Christian, and respected that. Since knowing her and her family, she says her brother-in-law is more open to the Christian point of view. The advice she gave was about letting your actions speak, and live out your faith.
So what is the answer? If we are Christians, does are faith cause others to want what we have? What does our love do? Do we have agendas when we love? Do we live out two lives, one in church and one at play? Does our faith promote hate, or does it promote love? Do we live out our faith because our subculture has made it appropriate? Do we live and love by the same culture that withdraws from the other? Do we read our Bible of a God full of love for us and use the same Bible to judge and perceive ourselves as better than others? If we are the light to the earth, why is our light not shining? They say that those who are the closest to us truly know who we are. You can fool a stranger, but it is much harder to fool a friend, a brother, or a loved one. Is your faith genuine? How are you improving in Christ? How are you achieving self-betterment? When our schemas, desires, self-fulfillments, and social spheres are taken away, is what’s left still praising God?
Perhaps it rests in love. We are all in this race called life together, and are all made in the image of God. Martin has changed the views of a handful of people. Imagine if every Christian on earth lived out a life of love? Imagine if your life caused just three others to want to be more like God. Anyone can hand out a pamphlet and take five minutes to talk to someone, but are we strong enough to take a lifetime of commitment towards our fellow humanity, God, and ourselves?
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one” – John Lennon