‘I didn’t know what to say’
“How can you believe this rubbish in light of science?”
I didn’t know what to say.
I’d never thought about it before.
I’d only become a Christian a few months before, and my friends loved to poke holes at my new-found faith. Being a Christian made sense to me, but my friends thought I’d either been brainwashed or gone mad (there was some debate about which was more likely).
I wanted to share the good news I’d come to believe in, but every time I opened my mouth I was met with a barrage of objections.
No doubt you’ve faced tough questions from your friends too. In fact, in our increasingly non-Christian society, this will happen more and more. If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves frustrated, discouraged and doubting. This is why the Bible says ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have’ (1 Peter 3:15).
But how can we ‘be prepared’? Here are three tips to help you get started:
A vital part of being prepared is having answers to hand when you need them.
If you do face a question you can’t answer, don’t be afraid to say something like ‘I don’t have an answer right now, but I’ll find out and get back to you’. It shows you’re taking the question seriously. Just make sure you do follow up!
When looking for answers, Bethinking.org is packed full of resources to help you engage with all sorts of questions. Check out www.bethinking.org/youth first before dipping into the rest of the site.
As well as being able to defend our faith, we need to be able to challenge our friends’ beliefs too. Paul says ‘We try to persuade others’ (2 Corinthians 5:11), and this should be our aim too. Defending your faith is good; seeking to persuade others is better.
A great way of doing this is by asking questions of your own. A good question to start with is ‘why do you think that?’ - This simple question opens up opportunities for a real conversation rather than you being backed into a corner.
It’s easy to respond to aggressive questions with aggressive answers. If we’re not careful conversations can spiral into name-calling and insults rather than real discussion. But Christians are called to be different.
Back in 1 Peter 3, we’re told to give our answer ‘with gentleness and respect’ (v16). In Colossians 4:6, Paul puts it this way: ‘Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.’
Gentleness, respect, grace – commit to embodying these characteristics whenever you face questions, and ask the Lord to help you grow in this. If you love and respect others, even when they don’t respect your faith, they will begin to listen.
You never know when the next tricky question will come your way. Will you be ready?
Tom grew up in a non-Christian home and became a Christian through some very determined school friends sharing the gospel with him (repeatedly, for a long time). He now oversees www.bethinking.org, equipping students to share their faith and answer tough questions.