As a Christian, I have a worldview that is shaped by my faith. Where I have always struggled, is in how that worldview should impact the way I interact with culture. How should my faith be expressed in areas of life such as politics, religious liberty, and more. Too often, my initial response is to simply nod and listen, without expressing my own views.
For many of my friends, I’ve seen the opposite response. They will rarely listen, but quickly express their opinion.
As we approach the moral and social issues around us, Dr Jeff Myers, President of Summit Ministries, offered some great advice. He offers two questions we can start with, when discussing the issues of our world.
1 – Tell me more about that.
When someone begins to express a stance on an issue, just ask them to tell you more about their opinion. “People are so seldom listened to” explains Myers, “It’s much more common to just wait until someone takes a breath and then launch in with your own viewpoint.”
This opens up the reality that we, as bearers of God’s image, are communicative people.
Asking someone to do more than merely express their opinion, opens up the conversation for additional communication.
2 – I’m curious. What do you mean by that?
We can dig into their position even further, Myers explains, with questions like “How did you arrive at that conclusion?”, “How do you know that conclusion is true?”, “What happens if you’re wrong?”, “If you were wrong, would you want to know?”
When we follow up by asking someone how the arrived at their conclusion, we can cause them to focus on the issues they are really dealing with.
“It will cause people to focus in on them in a way that will make them think. And, probably in a way that will make them want to ask ‘Well, what do you think about this issue?’. Then, that is your opportunity to begin talking.
So, is this kind of discussion healthy and appropriate? Or is it best to simply express our faith elsewhere?
Myers points out that whether we intend to or not, disengaging our faith from the world around us tends to be a place many of us go. For some, it’s a disengagement that creates a separate community that we try to get others to join. For others, there is a general feeling that our faith has little or nothing to do with what is going on in the world.
Myers argues that neither of those are a healthy view.
“I think the better view is to say, if there are public arguments that can be made on the issues, based on biblical principles, are we obligated to make them? Or, should we be silent about them? And, I think we should make them.
Jeff Myers recently joined Connecting Faith on Faith Radio. You can hear the complete interview here.