A couple of my fellow law students were recently engaging in a lively but respectful dialogue about all things biblical. One was a Christian, the other was not, and the latter was asking questions about Christianity ranging from salvation all the way to Christian views on the death penalty. That last topic was the catalyst for their conversation, brought about by a lecture on sentencing reform we had just attended.
What began as a quick citation of Genesis 9:6 — “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God he made man” — quickly spiraled into a general discussion of why the Christian student believed what he believed.
This interaction reminded me of Paul’s words in 2 Timothy, telling the letter’s titular recipient to “be ready in season and out of season” to preach and speak the gospel.
When we think about witnessing to someone, it often comes with a pang of anxiety or stress. We feel like the conversation would be forced or awkward. But the Lord works in mysterious ways. I don’t think either of the students I saw woke up planning to engage in an hour-long conversation about the Bible, the nature of God, and salvation. It just came about naturally from a talk at school.
This is why Paul wanted Timothy to always be ready to preach on the gospel and why 1 Peter 3:15 exhorts Christians to “always [be] prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” This Christian student followed this directive and was ready to give a defense of Christianity, being very well-versed in Scripture, Church history, and the writings of Christian apologists such as Aquinas, Augustine, and C.S. Lewis.
This interaction highlights one reason it is so important to make a serious effort to study the Bible and really understand what it is we Christians believe and, very importantly, why we believe it. We should certainly read the Bible for our own personal study, but you never know when a conversation will turn to Christianity, and we need to be ready to give an account for our beliefs.
Declining church attendance and religious affiliation generally grab headlines, and congregations and pastors are working overtime to draw people back. Such efforts sometimes look like trying to modernize the church, appealing to the sensibilities of the day through more contemporary worship or putting a greater emphasis on fun youth programs.
I am not saying anything against these measures. If they work, then, by all means, do them. However, I am, first and foremost, an advocate for the effectiveness of individual action. Church leaders have their job to do, but so do we as individual Christians who are called to be “salt and light.”
When we go out into the world, we are on the front lines of the Great Commission. You may be the only Christian to whom someone in your office will ever talk, and you never know when a lunchtime conversation can turn into an opportunity for testimony.
We should all do our best to be ready.
Nick Treglia is a student at Samford University's Cumberland School of Law.
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