As I work through some theological issues that are central to the Christian faith, I become more aware of the fact that others are going through similar exercises. Whether it’s “Why did God allow my child to die?” or “Is double predestination really taught in the Bible?”, these questions should be asked and the person asking will benefit from the intentional help of others. In this process of seeking out what one believes, there needs to be room for questioning and critically thinking a thing through. On closer look, this is really something that everyone should be going through. There is never a point in our lives where we have arrived at a full knowledge of the truth. We are always informing and reforming our thinking. This is part of what it means to be human. Sometimes situations arrive in our laps and we realize in that moment we are left with two choices – work through this or turn a blind eye. Seldom does turning a blind eye offer any benefit to yourself or your neighbor. The hope is that what we believe will arrive closer and closer to that which God has said is true. Here are seven suggestions on engaging a person who is questioning and seeking understanding:
1) Engage them. I use “engage” because so often we stand aloof in the midst of an opportunity to bless. So don’t be afraid to ask them about what issues they are thinking through and why they are thinking through them.
2) Don’t offer snap judgments, they often shut the conversation down. Hear them out and keep the conversation going.
3) Listen well. Communication can be difficult and it can take a while to really discern what a person is asking.
4) Ask questions, even tough ones. It will be fruitful for each person to think more carefully about why they believe what they believe.
5) Don’t offer up pithy comments unless you truly mean it. “God is in control” is rarely helpful when offered up as cheap sentiment.
6) Don’t turn the conversation towards you and your issues. Sharing similar stories is fine and even helpful at points, but this person doesn’t primarily need empathy through your stories. They are seeking answers. Your stories should serve them, not you.
7) Ask to pray with them. Keep praying. Follow up. Keep 2 Peter 3:18 in mind “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.”