You’re reading your Bible on the train, and you get chatting to the guy next to you. And as you quietly pray that God would give you an opportunity to share the gracious, salty words of the gospel, your new friend says, “You know, I don’t mean to offend, but to be honest I’ve never really understood why people read the Bible and go to church and all that. I’m a Christian, but to me it’s about the life you live, and how you treat people. Respecting others. Being ethical. But studying the Bible just seems to lead to disagreements and arguments.”
Now you are somewhat surprised to find such an engaging and articulate person sitting next to you, but this is a scenario, and people are like that in scenarios. In a flash of inspiration, you realize exactly what you should say next. “I think you’re right — people have lots of opinions about what it means to be a Christian, and sometimes they argue about it. But I read the Bible because I figure that if anyone really knows what it means to be a Christian, it would be God. And this is his book.”
Thus comes the key moment. There are only three more stops before you have to get off the train. In the brief time that remains, what can you say next that will help your friend to understand the gospel?
You swallow a little nervously and say, “Actually, one of my favorite passages in the Bible describes in a nutshell exactly what it means to be a Christian. Do you mind if I show it to you?”
So here’s the question, and the point of the scenario: which Bible passage would you turn to? And how would you explain briefly from it what a Christian is?
It would need to be a passage that said something about who Christ is, and what God has done for us in him. It would need to say something about the response that the gospel calls for — what it means to become a Christian. And it would need to be fairly simple and straightforward to understand at first reading, so that you could read it easily with a friend and point out the main points without fuss.
1 Peter 3:15 says that we should always be ready to do this; that is, to make a defense to anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope that we have. Here’s a chance to get ready (if you’re not ready already).
Where would you turn, and what would you say?
(In my next post, I’ll tell you where I would turn.)
Tony Payne is an ordained minister who serves as the Publishing Director at Matthias Media. He has authored or co-authored numerous books, Bible studies and resources, including The Trellis and the Vine, Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face and Six Steps to Reading Your Bible. Tony is also a regular contributor to The Briefing, and lives in Sydney, Australia, with his wife Alison and their five children.