Tuesday: Taking an Interest in Unbelievers

Sermon: How to Tell Others about Christ

In this week’s lessons, we learn important principles for how to evangelize from Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman.

Theme: Taking an Interest in Unbelievers

In yesterday’s study we concluded by asking if you keep aloof from unbelievers, or do you take the Gospel to those who need it? Another way of asking the same thing is to ask whether or not you have contact with non-Christians socially. Do you go to their homes, sit in their kitchens, ask them their interests?

A great deal of our difficulty in this area comes from the fact that Christians often think the world will inevitably get them dirty if they come into contact with it. They take verses like 2 Corinthians 6:17, “Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate," as meaning that Christians are to have no dealings with the world, rather than seeing that the verse only concerns avoiding conformity to the world, not withdrawal from it. You see, Jesus did not teach isolation, and He did not practice it. He said in His great prayer for us, "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one" (John 17:15). When Christ departed for heaven He left His disciples in the world to evangelize it. 

I'm convinced that we need very practical ways of repeating Christ's obvious friendship with the lost in our personal experience. For a start, you might invite a number of non-Christian friends into your home for dinner. You might go to a concert with them. You might take in a sports event. Why not befriend your co-workers? Join a club, a choral society, a civic organization. Go shopping together or invite your friends in for coffee. These are only beginning suggestions. If you're serious about taking the Gospel to the lost, the Lord will show you other fruitful avenues of getting to know non-Christians. Just remember: Take the initiative and be friendly. You must be a friend to those you are trying to win. 

Now second, ask questions. It's never a bad move to ask questions. As we read the story of Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman, we discover that this is precisely what He did at the very beginning of the conversation. He asked for a drink. Looking at the conversation from the outside as we do, this is almost amusing. The woman was the one with the needs; she had the real questions, and Jesus was the one with the answers. Nevertheless, Jesus humbled Himself by asking a favor of her, and so established an immediate and genuine point of contact. 

Moreover, there were two very important consequences as the result of His asking the woman for something. First, He aroused her interest. Dale Carnegie reminds us in his successful book, How to Win Friends and InfluencePeople, that the voice any person likes to hear best is his own. Jesus got the woman of Samaria talking, which put her in a good mood—perhaps even changed her mood, if she'd arrived at the well shortly after being pushed off the path by Peter, as I believe may have been the case. Out of her good mood, the woman then clearly developed a favorable interest in Jesus. She must have found herself thinking, “What an interesting person this is. How polite he is. And what discrimination he must have to be interested in me." 

Study Questions:

  1. How can 2 Corinthians 6:17 be misunderstood? How should we interpret it?
  2. What is the second principle we learn?

Reflection: Are there ways you may be conformed to the world? What might you need to change, and how are you going to respond?

For Further Study: Download and listen for free to Richard Phillips’ message, “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

Think and Act Biblically from James Boice is a devotional of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting Think and Act Biblically and the mission of the Alliance.