littlemissmusical7742 asked: Hi again! I’m seriously stumped about this one. My best friend is pagan. She’s also bisexual. I tried to witness to her, but we got in a big fight over it (especially what the Bible says about homosexuality). I really want her to be saved, but she said she doesn’t want me to talk about Jesus to her, or say negative things about paganism (I kinda got freaked out by it). She also does herbology and spiritual stuff like that (witchcraft). I’m scared of losing her as a friend!!
Unka Glen answered: Well let’s see, you got cornered into telling her that the Bible says she’s no good, and then you “freaked out” as she discussed her religious beliefs, and you’re stumped about why this didn’t work out. Well, with 20-20 hindsight it’s pretty obvious, but who of us hasn’t made similar mistakes, in the moment?
In fact, one of the most common things I get asked about when it comes to witnessing, is “how do I repair the damage, after I sort of ended up telling someone I love that they basically suck, and that they’re going to Hell?”
Think of it like this… Part of my day job is working with men behind bars. Picture a big room, 20 feet wide and 40 feet long, and all of the walls have prison cell doors on them. There are about 70 men in this room. I enter this room alone, and the door is locked behind me. I may be known by my reputation to some, but I likely don’t know anyone in this room.
So what do I say? Picture yourself in that same situation. What would you say? Where would you start? Would you get out your Bible and start reading the Ten Commandments? Would you tell them, as you told your friend, that you’re “freaked out” by their lifestyle? Nope. You wouldn’t say any of that stuff, because you’d get stabbed.
If you were in that situation, you would, maybe for the first time in your life, experience the concept of true respect. That is, it would suddenly be clear to you that if these people respect you, then you will live, and if they don’t respect you, then you may not live. Or you might live, but with a limp to remind you how to behave yourself.
The first thing that would come to your mind would be to show respect to them, as a way of gaining respect from them. This would not only be the right survival instinct, it turns out to be the right Biblical approach. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
Maybe you’re used to an environment where your spiritual leaders sometimes show neither respect nor gentleness, but instead pile on the guilt, and lead you into fear.
You may decide to put up with that kind of treatment, and not stab them (even though a little light stabbing might help a little), but make no mistake, your unsaved friends will not be eager to sign up for any of that. Nor should they be. It’s about good news, if people feel turned-off and mistreated, we somehow missed the good news by a mile. And again, we’ve all been there.
Sometimes we get so desperate to see those we love come to Christ that we overcook everything a bit. That’s likely what happened here:
rashep2 asked: When I was younger I had no problem speaking my mind, and made my opinions on faith and my passion for following Him painfully plain to all my friends I tried to “convert”. As I got older I matured to realize my approach was more hurtful than helpful, and I pulled back considerably. Somewhere along the way, I quit sharing completely, and developed the theory that listening could be the best witness. Now, I find myself wondering how best to walk the line between listening and sharing to glorify God best?
Unka Glen answered: Listening is the exact right starting point for all good ministry. So you’ve chosen very well, and learned the right lesson from some of your earlier mistakes. The key to knowing when you’ve listened enough, and are ready to speak, is to wait for the point where you feel like you have a meaningful insight that will help set them free.
When you first start listening to people in a witnessing situation, they may tell you five or six different things that are messed up with them, and they all might appear to be running in opposite directions. But look for an area of overlap. What might these problems have in common? You’re looking to see a connection that they don’t see in themselves.
You’re looking for an insight that will set them free. And here’s the secret sauce: whatever they’re on, they don’t want too much, they are settling for too little.
So, going back to the first witnessing situation, all that pagan and herbs and whatever else is very likely a cry for attention, it’s a way of forcing people to engage with her, by coming along and telling her not to do it. (Yes, you fell right into that trap, and yes, that’s why she didn’t respect your witness).
But God wants to give her attention. “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5), “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). These are the verses she needs to hear. She’s lonely, she doesn’t know how to get positive attention. She might even be in a position where she doesn’t quite know how to receive love. These are the rocks in the soil we must clear before we plant the seeds.
She’s willing to settle for a small amount of negative attention, because that’s all she thinks she can get, but God wants to be there for her, to fill every empty room of her heart, and to show her love, not to mention a mystical and spiritual richness beyond her wildest imagination.
They don’t want too much, they’re settling for too little.
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- rashep2 said: Thanks for the input! This helped considerably. @littlemissmusical7742 I’ve been exactly where you’re been. It’s a hard place to be. Praying for you and your friend.
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