I have been wrestling with how to communicate the Christian faith with the skeptic, agnostic, and atheistic person in San Francisco-Marin. A few of my current observations is that I need to be tactful most of the time and direct some of the time. The trick is to find out when each approach is required. Like an ambassador to a foreign country, different situations demand different approaches.
1) Ambassadors must be tactful
I have found that winsome presentations of the faith and active engagement with questions behind the questions (asking clarifying questions like “what do you mean by that” or “why would you say that”) are very important. As a starting point in conversations surrounding the faith, it’s very important to not come across as a complete douche. Can I get an amen?
But here’s the thing: winsomeness sometimes can veer into the borderlands of being a total pushover and softy. In the end, people need to hear about Jesus and his claims to life. And sometimes (OK, all the time) these claims can be tough to hear! Which leads me to my second lesson.
2) Ambassadors convey messages, even difficult ones
As ambassadors of Jesus, Christians need to convey the difficult nature of following Jesus.
Following Jesus is not all Joel Osteen “Be a better you by buying my 10 redundant and terrifyingly, terrible books” philosophy. Following Jesus demands that we lay down our own lives and pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. And I’m sorry to be the bearer of this news but his will is often not our own will!
Sometimes we need to lay down the cards so that people can see what following Jesus exactly looks like. Sometimes we need to tell those who are on the fence of following Jesus about the demands of discipleship and letting God take care of the rest.
As an ambassador from the USA conveys the message of the president, so the ambassador of the risen Messiah must relay the message of Jesus to a broken world.
3) Ambassadors are not clueless
As an ambassador of Jesus, we must be aware of our cultural context. There will always be those sitting in the pews of churches across America who are not interested in following Jesus, instead they just want to fit in. Yes, there are cultural Christians, even in the middle of thriving churches.
In more progressive cities, there will be more people who feel comfortable not being labelled as Christians. These “nones” now feel comfortable proclaiming their agnostic and atheistic faith (yes, it is a faith). There will always be nominal Christians, it is our job as ambassadors to communicate the good news of Jesus to everyone— even to ourselves.
What tips have you uncovered as an ambassador for the Kingdom of God?