“If you died today, and were standing before God, what would you say to convince him to let you into heaven?” Imagine this question posed to you at a lunch meeting, or even perhaps on the phone. What would you say? Fortunately, I am prized with daily unbeliever intersections, which allow me the opportunity to ask this very question.
As one might imagine the feedback runs the gamut, but all have a common theme, which is justification. Whether they consciously know it, or not, man is always playing the Luke 18 Pharisee justify card. “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.” This manifests itself today, as “I am a good person,” or could be better understood as, “I am so much better than the next guy.” Man is always playing appraiser as he pulls out comps to support his own personal valuation.
The tactic, to this attitude of hiding by justifying, is to ask questions, which expose the truth of his/her sin condition. Some of the questions I pose back to them are: How did you come up with that? What standard are you using? Does your standard trump someone else’s? Have you ever not lived up to your own standard?
Questions are so powerful, and Jesus knew this well; look at Matthew 19:17: And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” Jesus knew about His own divinity, but was forcing this man to think about the notion of good. If God is the only one who is good, then what does that make man? When someone is asked a question, it opens the gateway for them to process. At that moment they are the one carrying the burden of making a case for good. Here is what I have noticed over time, which might be helpful in sharing the gospel.
1) Questions create clarity from confusion. I call this funneling; “what do you mean by that?”
2) Questions redirect the attention back on the true issue; this plays out on the person who wants to talk about the innocent person in Africa who never heard the gospel.
3) Questions test someone’s faulty foundation. A while back I had a gal who told me she was a Spiritual Coach and taught there is no such thing as right or wrong. This faulty foundation came to a screeching halt through some questions.
4) Questions confront people’s reality of sin and unveil unrighteousness. Most people are deceived in their thinking of how good they are. The most crushing blow is when you ask if they have ever lied before. One of the best comebacks I heard the other day was, “well, maybe a few white lies.”
Man is still doing the same thing he did in the Garden of Eden; hiding and blaming, or better put, justifying himself. What questions do you ask people in the marketplace to get the conversation going?