“You’re on a train with an atheist, a Muslim and a Jew.
Which would you rather talk to?“
Ed: THE FOLLOWER of Christ should respect everyone regardless of who or what they are, and treat everyone as they themselves would like to be treated (Matthew 5:43–48, 7:12). This is the way Jesus himself lived. He told the famous parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37) which showed (among other things) that we cannot predict what kind of people will behave well or badly.
It’s good to talk to people, it’s interesting to listen to their points of view and their beliefs, and of course it’s good to take any opportunity to share the Gospel message to anyone who will listen. As Jesus said, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation’ (Mark 16:15). If the Gospel is true, which it is, there is no need to fear having it challenged.
The Apostle Paul exhorted his young friend Timothy to be always ready to tell people about his faith—not bombastically, but with patience and humility: ‘Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching’ (2 Timothy 4:2).
The Apostle Peter urged his readers to show their faith both by the things they said and by the way they behaved—and to be prepared for people not to like it: ‘In your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame’ (1 Peter 3:15–16).
The Apostle James warned about our tendency to make judgements about people based on our preconceptions (James 2:1–4). The fact is, we don’t know who will listen. When Saul of Tarsus was raging against Christianity, persecuting and blaspheming and locking up any Christians he could find (Acts 8:3), who would have thought that it would be any use preaching to him? But the Lord knew his potential. Acts 9 relates his conversion, and his transformation into a devoted follower and preacher of Christ.