Advice on sharing Jesus with someone

Prepare a person's heart before you ask for a decision

(John 4:25-26 NIV) The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." {26} Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he."

I wonder what would happen if Jesus said these words to the woman right at the outset. What would happen if instead of asking for water, explaining about living water, talking about her husband, Jesus jumps straight into declaring to her that He was the Messiah? I think the woman would think Jesus was mad. We would too if a stranger come to us and tell us that he is the Messiah.

But before Jesus declared that He was the Messiah, He showed His warmth towards the woman and showed His exceptional ability to know the details of her life and about religious matters. Therefore the woman would not be shocked to hear later that Jesus was the Messiah.

Similarly before we tell a person that Christianity is the only way, we have to impress him that Christianity is indeed different from the rest. Jesus is different because He really rose from the dead. The Bible is indeed different from scriptures because it contains verifiable proofs.

Speak in a way that the non-believer can understand

When Jesus spoke to a commoner - a Samaritan woman - He used simple means to communicate the gospel. He never spoke like he did in other ways with other people.

When Jesus spoke to a rich man who is trained to keep the law, He discussed about keeping the law and what constitutes the law.

When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, He talks about being born again.

Such topics would have been totally alien to the Samaritan woman.

We need to speak in such a way that the non-believer can understand. To the educated, we can bring out proofs. To the uneducated, we bring out real life examples of why we believe God is real. To the one who is hurting, we tell of God the healer and comforter.

Do not allow yourself to be distracted by irrelevant topics

(John 4:20-24 NIV) Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." {21} Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. {22} You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. {23} Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. {24} God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

After introducing the topic of living water and showing evidences that He is indeed a prophet, the woman introduced a topic that threatened to derail the conversation. Yet Jesus would not allow her to do so. Without brushing her off, He briefly answered her question and pointed her back to what is relevant - worshipping God and not arguing over the place of worship.

Confronting the non-believer with the decision

(John 4:25-26 NIV) The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." {26} Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he."

After explaining to the woman about the right way to approach God, she excuses herself from making a decision. She was contented to wait for the coming Messiah to come and clear the confusion up. But she would not want to decide for herself. Jesus would not allow her to postpone the decision because He knew that He has already set the stage and made it possible for her to believe. He tells her directly that He is that Messiah.

When the time is right we have to confront with a decision. We never know whether that person will have another chance in his life to make a decision. We cannot lose the precious opportunity.

Give the non-believer opportunity to talk/ask questions

A conversation turns boring if only one side is doing the talking. No doubt Jesus had a very crucial message to share, He did not fail to give the woman opportunities to talk.

(John 4:19-25 NIV) "Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. {20} Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." …{25} The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."

Through what the woman said, Jesus knew that she already believed that He is a prophet. She also believes that there will be a coming Messiah. Putting the two together, Jesus could easily move to the next step, that is to tell her that He IS the Messiah.

Sometimes we spend much time and effort trying to convince a non-believer of something that he already believes in. For example we may try so hard to convince him that there is a God when in fact he already believes in that. We could have found that out the simple way if we had only asked a question or let him talk.

This truth can also be illustrated in the following incidence. Jesus was talking to a rich man about how one can receive eternal life. Instead of just going about a standard presentation, Jesus wants to tailor make his approach. And to do that He has to know the non-believer's state of belief. What better way to find that out than by asking a question.

(Mat 19:16-21 NIV) Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" {17} "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." {18} "Which ones?" the man inquired. Jesus replied, "'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, {19} honor your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'" {20} "All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?" {21} Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

By noting the answer to His question, Jesus knew that the rich man's idea of salvation is to obey the Law and earn God's favor. Therefore Jesus had to tailor His message to one that draws home the point that it is not possible for anyone to do that. Even though the rich man claimed that he has obeyed God's laws from his youth, he could not obey what Jesus told him to do - to sell his possessions and give to the poor.

Commendation is a good way to gain the respect of people

(John 4:16-18 NIV) He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back." {17} "I have no husband," she replied. Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. {18} The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."

The woman realized that Jesus knew about her immoral lifestyle. Yet she must have been quite surprised that Jesus' reaction was not one of condemnation. On the contrary Jesus could even find grounds to commend her for her truthfulness. Such a reaction of Jesus won immediate respect from the woman.

During our conversation with non-Christians, look for opportunities to commend them. But do not do so in a flattering manner. Do so only when you are sincere.

Look for areas of agreement

(John 4:16-18 NIV) He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back." {17} "I have no husband," she replied. Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. {18} The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."

Nobody likes to speak to someone who disagrees with everything they say. If you disagree with everything someone says, you can be sure he will try his best to disagree with what you say.

On the other hand, if we agree with someone, they will try their best to agree with us.

Appeal to the conscience

(John 4:16-18 NIV) He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back." {17} "I have no husband," she replied. Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. {18} The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."

Jesus appealed to the conscious of the woman and her need to get herself right with God. Even though Jesus did not condemn her, she knows that she has not lived her life right before God.

In our conversations with non-believers, we must never condemn them for their sins. Yet we need to appeal to their conscience that they need to get their lives right before God. It is only when one sees his inadequacies that he sees the need for God.

Be aware of Groupthink

If you speak to a group of people, even if one is convicted, he may not want to appear so if he senses that the group is not. This is because he does not want to look weird or lose acceptance by the group.

This phenomenon is called Groupthink and may be overcome by speaking to each person individually.