In the well-known movie simply titled in honor of the lead character, played by one Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump famously evoked one of one of his momma’s sayings when he quipped: ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’
Oh the mystery!
As we think about the witnessing endeavor, fulfilling the Great Commission certainly includes conversations, conversations with others regarding the person and work of Jesus. And those conversations can also be like a box of chocolates.
Yet, it is the spiritual conversation, or series of spiritual conversations, that God can and does use, to draw people to Himself.
And we get that. But what we may not get is how to steer conversations from the secular to the sacred. Have you ever found this endeavor challenging?
If we’re honest, we all would have to admit, no matter how gifted a conversationalist we may think we are, that moving conversations toward the spiritual are challenging to one degree or another at various times. And once there, then what do we do?
This series of blogs will address having conversations of spiritual substance, and ultimately, conversations about Jesus.
A fascinating aspect about conversations is that they are also like a box of chocolates—you never know what you’re going to get. But as followers of Jesus, we’re called to walk by faith, not by sight. So that should be okay.
There are two general ways spiritual conversations happen – we can initiate them by asking leading questions or they happen organically in the course of conversation.
There are a myriad of leading questions we can ask to get the ball rolling. For example, we can ask a benign question like ‘Did you have any kind of faith tradition growing up?’ or a very direct question like ‘Who do you think Jesus is?’ We’ll elaborate more on the power of the question during this series.
Have you ever had a powerful spiritual conversation with an unbeliever and you’re not quite sure how it began – it just happened? Upon sharing this phenomenon I’ve been asked: “How did it begin?” My response: “I don’t know.” Can you relate?
Understand spiritual conversations are a God-thing! For the Lord has a singular ability to move conversations from the secular to the spiritual. And whether you see yourself as a conversationalist or not, the ‘will to’ proceeds the ‘how to.’ If you’re reading this blog, you have a ‘will to’, and I affirm you in the Lord! Trust that God will take our willing heart and grow this area of our witness.
“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6).
Whether we lead with questions or seek to be more organic in our approach, intentionality is the key. Prayer is the foundation to spiritual conversations – go to God on behalf of people before you go to people on behalf of God. If we want to speak with people about the Kingdom of God and Jesus, ask the Lord to prepare us to give a ‘word aptly spoken’ (Proverbs 25:11).
We may know what we want to say and how to say it. Yet if we don’t know what to say we can trust the Lord to meet us at our point of need.
“But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak” (Matthew 10:19).
If the Lord promised to give the disciples the right words under that kind of pressure, don’t you think He will give to you in your moment of need ‘what you should speak?’
Recently I had a spiritual conversation with a bank teller. I had no idea walking into the bank I would have a conversation of substance.
While making a ‘commercial’ deposit, he asked how business was going. I then told him I actually run a ‘Christian non-profit’ organization. He asked what that looked like. I told him I taught followers of Jesus how to share their faith and also taught Jewish Roots of the Christian faith. He said, ‘That’s interesting.’
I responded, ‘What’s your spiritual orientation?’
That began a brief conversation where he said he was struggling with faith issues. He told me he’d grown up in the Church and had recently been attending a church that was much different than what he knew growing up. He said this experience had him reeling and asking lots of questions.
Without knowing specifics, I encouraged him to seek the Lord and get into His Word. I also told him I would pray for him.
He thanked me and I went on my way.
Oh the mystery!
“Speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).