I have had people ask me, “How do I talk to a homosexual?” When I was first asked that question I looked at the person really strangely because I really didn’t understand the question. That question is disrespectful in the sense that you are bunching a whole entire group of people together as if they were one single person without individuality. It is just as rude as asking, “How do I talk to Canadians or how do I talk to obese people.” The answer is, with your mouth and with your actions of course.
I now have since realized that these people were well meaning Christians asking the question, “How do I share my views with someone whose beliefs are different from mine?”
As Christians, we need to remember that our lives should be dictated by our inner drive to love; loving each other (Christians) and loving others. We are guided by the “reflecting Christ” understanding that we follow His example. He did not hesitate to publicly demonstrate His love for all those He came in contact with, even when He was judgmental about something, it was out of a desire to bring God’s light and love to a world coated with sin and hypocrisy.
I am convinced that the biggest hindrance we have in the church today is the fact that people are not truly loved by Christians, or they do not feel accepted or loved by us. So, let us look at how we should talk to those whose views are different, using biblical principles demonstrated by Jesus and others as they demonstrated this to us and captured it for us in the Bible.
We need to start with an inner realization that we truly are not holy nor perfect and our lives are not always pleasing to God. Jesus did not have that problem, we do. Jesus told us to consider the log in our eye before talking to someone about the speck of dirt in theirs. This is a guiding principle that we need to understand, no matter how “right” we are about something, we still have “wrongness” in us. Paul talks about having a proper perspective that we are not as holy as we think we are. So this is the attitude we need to have when we approach anyone, especially someone whose views are different.
Do not take my words as if I am condoning a grace that does not have accountability included, absolutely not! It is grace that we are saved, but our salvation will cause us to change and there will be fruit of that change demonstrated in our actions and life after we are saved. Jesus did not go around rebuking everyone he stood next to and point at everyone as He walked by and called them names or put labels on them. In fact, Jesus sat with sinners and the lost and hurting all the time without rebuking them openly; but He did rebuke. It is all about listening to the Holy Spirit’s timing on your conversation. You must wait for the right time to have a tough conversation with someone about their behavior or actions and it must always be done in humility and with respect.
As an example, if your views differ from mine surrounding speaking in tongues. I am not going to be able to have a conversation with you about it by yelling at you how wrong you are with your stance on the topic. If every time you saw me, I brought up speaking in tongues, I would be more of an aggravation to you and a nuisance than helpful. You probably would not want to spend any time with me or listen to anything I have to say on any subject, let alone the ones we differ on.
We need to approach people in love and mutual respect. We can disagree on any subject, even the validity of salvation through Christ alone, and there should be no reason why you should leave our conversation offended or attacked by anything that I say. In fact, the love of Christ should be what people see and hear from you; yes, it can be challenging and painful to hear the Truth. But it is only the Truth that will set you free from whatever struggles or situations you find yourself in at any given time. You need to demonstrate that God’s love is one full of grace and mercy; the same grace and mercy that you once experienced, is also freely offered to everyone and you have no right to try to keep it for yourself.
There may come a time, or may not, when that person has developed a respect for you and will actually listen to you on the subject that is different than yours. When they can see that you respect their view without judgement and you two can disagree without turing the discussion into an argument or personal attack. It is at this time when you are really able to be heard and God can use your words and actions to support the Truth. Who knows, you might be able to win them over.
I do want to add that there are times when you will be engaged in an emotional conversation and are called to do so. I am not trying to say the method above is the only method of communication to people who have views that differ from yours. However, be careful, any time you get into a very emotional and energized discussion, make sure you know that this is directed and purposeful because it will not be received well by the listener. However, God has used “in your face” conversations to make a difference in people’s lives.
Let God direct your communication with people who hold difference views from yours, and lean into His understanding as you approach them. Stay in prayer at all times for the person and pray not only for an open door for you to talk to them, but also for others in their life to talk to them as well. God Bless you.