Legend has it, that Vladimir Lenin was a very smart man. Once, police came to the place where he was under house arrest. They were tipped off by an informant that Lenin had contraband, so they were looking for it – mostly books or any other literature that Communists used to influence the masses.
Lenin knew he was in trouble, because he had several prohibited books on the bottom shelves. What was he to do?
I’ll tell you what happened next in a second, but first, let me ask you a question: suppose a person from a totally different religion (let’s call it Russian Orthodox) came to you and asked, “say, what’s the difference between you Baptists and Russian Orthodox?”
How would you answer?
Think about it:
The Enemy just set a mine right in front of you to step on
But to avoid this question would be just as deadly.
Let me tell you how I used to answer this.
“Well, we don’t have any icons in our churches, unlike the Russian Orthodox, bless God!” I would continue, “and we don’t add man-made doctrine to the Bible, such as Apocrypha and Church Fathers’ teachings…”
Do you see what I have done? I’ve alienated the person from the beginning and it took less than 10 seconds to do that. The Gospel didn’t have a chance to change this person’s heart. (Truth be told, I didn’t even think about sharing the Gospel, instead, in my pride I was eager to show my deep knowledge of the differences between us and those, who are “wrong”). And it happened so many times that I should have learned a long time ago…
The biggest mistake — I’ve allowed Satan to frame the conversation
Lenin was smarter than I. When the police came to his bookshelves they could have started searching from the bottom and quickly found the contraband… but Lenin offered a step stool to the officer, who promptly took it and began searching from the top shelf. Since Lenin had an extensive library, that officer gave up his search before he got to communist contraband…
What Lenin did — he reframed the search where it benefitted him.
When we are talking about answering questions of unbelievers, our main goal is not to make friends or to show how much we know, but to share the Gospel with them. Reframing a seemingly explosive question “say, what’s the difference between you Baptists and Russian Orthodox?” can sound like this:
Witnessing Lenin’s way
“To tell you the truth, not a whole lot. We believe that God created this world in 6 days, and so do Russian Orthodox believers. We also believe that Man sins and comes short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) — so do the Orthodox. We both believe that Jesus is the Son of God (1 Jn 5:5), who came 2000 years ago to die for our sins on the cross and who was buried and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3–4).”
Before I get crucified for “compromising the truth” let me just say, that if teaching a child basic ‘rithmetic, before proceeding to multiplication, algebra and trigonometry is “compromising” then ok, I am guilty!
At this point, not only I haven’t “lost” him, I have established some common ground. My friend is still by my side, listening intently. What’s important to point out, I’ve already built a foundation for the Gospel.
Proceeding to answer the question asked, I can delve right into the heart of the Gospel and (without any more references to the Russian Orthodox) tell the person what the Bible says about sin, God’s holy standard, salvation and ask him (or her) to make a decision.
Realizing that I don’t have to answer what I was asked, but rather answer what the person needs was the most liberating idea that helped my personal soulwinning.
Come to think of it, this is what Jesus did all the time.