How to answer: difficult questions regarding Christianity
When the Bible talks about Christians being witnesses in the world around them, regarding Jesus Christ, it assumes that people will be asking us questions about our faith in Christ. Peter tells us that we should always be ready to answer those who ask us about the hope we have. Paul talks about how we need wisdom to know how to respond to each person.
The Bible expects that our Christianity will be open, that we will be talking with people around us on the deeper level, asking them questions and sharing what Christ means in our lives. As we do so, we can be sure that people will have difficult questions about God and our faith.
The more I have grown as a witness, the more I have encountered such questions. One woman on a plane wouldn’t even consider turning to God because she knew someone whose baby was born with a terrible sickness. Another person told me that the beliefs of Christianity were like witchcraft. Someone else had fought in guerilla conflicts and felt they had done things too terrible for God to forgive. An athlete told me that the hindu girl on her athletic team seemed to see her God doing things for her and so her faith must be as valid as ours.
I used to dread these questions. First of all, it’s impossible to memorise answers for the countless different questions people may ask and it made me nervous that I wouldn’t have answers for people. Second, there was the fear that someone might ask a question that would make me doubt my own faith!
But now I look forward to these questions. Here’s why:
- Hard questions show that the person is grappling with the issue of faith in Jesus
This isn’t always the case. They guy who said Christianity was like witchcraft was not open at all to Christ. He was just on the attack. When a person has this attitude, don’t invest emotional energy and time on it. You never see Jesus chasing down people who weren’t interested, trying to persuade them to give him another chance. Rather, look for those who are truly searching and invest in them.
But this is rare. Usually when someone expresses a hard question, it is something they struggle with. The woman on the plane whose friend’s baby was born sick was angry with God about that. How could she trust him? She wanted to talk about it, not sure if there was any meaningful answer, but needed to work through it. She started out very negative, but ended the conversation so thankful for our discussion.
The man who thought his wartime activities made him too sinful for God was quite emotional as I spoke with him about what God’s grace through Jesus meant for him and his past. He put his faith in Christ and so gladly received God’s forgiveness.
Don’t think that someone’s hard question means they are not open to God. Rather, it shows that they are grappling with what it means for them to turn to him.
- Hard questions help me understand the issues holding this person back from trusting Christ
Sometimes I will even draw these questions out by asking a person, “What is holding you back from trusting in Jesus?” When they raise their hard question, it could be a smokescreen hiding the real issue, but very often it is something that is standing in the way of their faith. I might talk with them until I am blue in the face, but until they get past this issue they will never put their faith in Jesus.
So I am grateful when they let me know what the issue is. I may have to come back to them later after thinking, reading, and talking to others about their issue, but now I know what it is that they need to get past, and that is great.
- Hard questions are an incredible opportunity to help this person overcome the big thing that keeps them from turning to God
When someone expresses their question or objection to faith in God/Jesus, they may express it in an angry way or as a heartfelt question, but what you need to recognise is that they have given you an incredible gift. They have given you an opportunity to help them get past the very thing that keeps them from turning to God.
So when someone asks you that question, get excited! This is a huge opportunity. Immediately start asking God to give you wisdom in the conversation. Think of meaningful questions you can ask to get a deeper understanding of why that issue is so big to them and what may have triggered it. Take them to Scripture. Think of things that have helped you answer that issue. And be willing to say, “I would love to think about that a bit more and have another good discussion about it. Is that okay?”
So, don’t fear hard questions, but welcome them as an opportunity from God and from the person, to help them deal with the things keeping them from God!