Nobody wants to be told how to live their life, regardless of their perspective on spiritual matters. Each one of us wants to be able to make decisions on our own about what to believe and how to live out those beliefs in a practical manner. It should not be surprising, therefore, that in a conversation about spiritual matters, someone might put up the objection that the Christian person is trying to impose his or her beliefs on someone else. We should be ever mindful of how we communicate about our faith and work hard to give other perspectives a place to stand in the dialog. We also must recognize when we are beginning to state our positions in such a way that the other person may feel “imposed upon.”
Christians think that they have cornered the market on right living
Christians believe that they are perfect, or very close to it
It’s wrong to believe that your beliefs are more important than other beliefs
Christians think that those who don’t share their beliefs are going to hell
Imposing your beliefs on other people is always wrong
Christians are bigoted, closed-minded, cold-hearted people
What experiences have you had with Christians that would lead you to feel that way?
What kinds of beliefs have been imposed on you? What did you find offensive about that?
I totally agree with you that Christians can sometimes come across as arrogant and self-righteous. It may seem as though we think that we’ve cornered the market on right living. Could I share with you how I see things differently? (Identify with their frustration; Acknowledge the validity of their complaint)
Christians are people who believe strongly about certain things, just as other folks believe strongly about certain things. Is there something that you believe strongly about? What do you do to express your own beliefs to another person? How would help a Christian be less “imposing” in how he or she shares what he believes to be true?(Gently challenge their perspective with well-worded questions that don’t offend. Eg. A person might feel strongly that a certain band’s CD really needs to be listened to. They tell all their friends and send them links to the video on YouTube and offer to share their iPod.)
May I share with you why I believe the way that I do? Would you be interested in hearing a reasonable explanation for the Christian faith? (Offer to share your perspective in a respectful way; Avoid inflammatory language)