Over the last few weeks I have had the gospel preached to me twice. The funny thing is, the preacher on both occasions was a non-Christian!

If you’re anything like me, you’ll often fall into the trap of thinking that the gospel is simply too alien for today’s culture. And therefore it seems almost impossible to bring it up naturally in conversation. Consequently our two options (we think) are 1) don’t mention it at all, 2) sledgehammer it in, no matter what the topic. Which one do you tend to choose?

On one level the ‘alienness’ of the gospel is a Spiritual/Scriptural fact. Paul tells the Corinthian church that the message of Christianity will undoubtably sound foolish or ridiculous to the world around us, and he warns us away from trying to make it ‘make sense’ by changing the message. 

However, when Paul says it’s ‘foolishness’ he doesn’t mean we should make it sound weird. Jesus demonstrates better than anyone just how real and relatable the Christian message truly is, telling stories of plants, birds, foxes, pigs, farmers and pearl merchants.

It’s a total myth that Christianity isn’t relevant to today’s world. It’s just as relevant as it was to the audiences of Jesus’ and Paul’s day. We just need to learn to see it. Or maybe I should say, hear it.

My two mini breakthrough moments came this month when I put down my sledgehammer and picked up my hearing aid. Jesus’ brother, James tells us that we should always try our hardest to be quicker to listen than to speak. And instead of expecting others to apply that principle, I thought I’d have a go at it myself. Turns out it works! Here’s what I heard:

‘I live daily with this weight on my shoulders. It’s always there. No matter what I do nowadays, my debts are always there in the background. I sometimes choose to ignore them, but I know that won’t get rid of the problem. I have realised I need help’.

Two days later another client said this:

‘The moment I had my debts written off was the day I felt truly free. Instead of being trapped and enslaved with creditors always hounding me for money, I now live in freedom’.

Colossians 2:13-14 God made [you] alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Even for a bumbling fool like me, these evangelistic opportunities were impossible to miss. All I had to say was, ‘you know you’ve just described the Christian faith almost word for word?!’  And two very natural conversations sprung up immediately.

I acknowledge that the topic of ‘debt’ does provide more explicit Bible references than architecture, car maintenance or stacking supermarket shelves. But I do believe that if you spend a bit more time listening to and thinking about the common subjects or experiences in your world, you’ll soon discover some brilliant illustrations for what God has done for us in Jesus.

Apologetic debates have their place, sharing prophetic words with randomers is vital, evangelistic street ministry changes lives. But they’re not as commonplace as water-cooler conversations. I have a feeling that taking the time to listen deeply to what people are talking and thinking about will open a bunch of regular doors for us simply to say, ‘you know that’s very similar to something I’ve read in the Bible’ and voila a door has opened!

Why not pray for boldness today and give it a go?