nbelievable, I said to myself, surveying my
office. I had just been hired by a Christian organization, a place as close to
paradise as I could imagine: no profanity, no off-color jokes, no tales of
drunken weekends. Having worked in the secular marketplace for more than 12
years, I now breathed in the wholesome air like a person getting a second
chance at life. Could it get any better than this?
As it turned out, things became a little too good. I quickly settled into a
routine of work, church, family and friendsall Christian. I often felt a twinge
of guilt when I thought of Lynn, a non-Christian co-worker at my former job.
She had opened up to me about her personal problems, and I had befriended her
and shared my faith with her.
I was thrilled the day Lynn announced that she had accepted Christ. As much
as I loved my Christian environment, who was I influencing now?
My guilt increased when I read Bob Briners book Roaring Lambs. I saw myself in what he calls
the Christian ghetto. Though he defines this as a thriving subculture of
Christian literature, films, TV and music, I related it to all things
Christian, where sanitized saints like me separate from the world and keep
safely out of its way. I knew if I were going to be the salt Jesus talked
about, I had to educate myself about non-Christians and deliberately place
myself in their path.
You dont have to work in a Christian environment to live in the Christian
ghetto. Are your social gatherings exclusively centered around church? Are all
your friends Christians? Do you stick to Christian literature in your reading?
If so, here are some ideas of how to shake loose and get out where you need to
Read bestsellers by secular
authors.While continuing to read the Bible and Christian books
for your spiritual growth, try dipping into popular literature. Not all
bestsellers are pure sex and violence. Many of them lend insight into
nonbelievers concerns, making it easier to relate the Christian worldview to
For example, Tuesdays With
Morrie focuses on death and the perspective it lends to how you should
live, all through the eyes of a dying Jewish nonbeliever. Conversations With God is a book of Neale
Donald Walschs letters he wrote to Godand Gods responsesduring his time of deep
depression. The Celestine Prophecy
offers nine spiritual insights into life and why were on planet Earth. By the
length of time these books remained on the bestsellers list (Tuesdays With Morrie has spent many months
on the list published by The New York
Times), you can see that God, death and the meaning of life have occupied
a central place in the publics mind.
If you dont feel comfortable reading certain books, read about them in the
book review section of the Sunday paper. By understanding what they believe,
you can prepare yourself to relate the gospel to nonbelievers.
Join a secular interest
group.Think about your hobbies or interests. Your knack for
snapping photos, painting, cooking or restoring old cars can build bridges with
nonbelievers. Check your local newspaper, library, hobby stores or even the
Internet for groups in your area. But remember: expand your horizons beyond
Several years ago I followed my love of writing and joined a secular writers
group. The guest speakers at our monthly meetings have taught me much, but my
real desire was to get to know those who share my interest but not my faith.
Ive been able to offer a biblical point of view to a group discussion.
While you make contact with non-Christians in your group, be sure that you
work hard at perfecting your craftnot to show off or intimidate others, but to
reflect positively on your Creator. This is a great way to let others know that
God is the source of your gift and that you depend on Him to help you.
Share a meal with
nonbelievers.Read a book? Joined a group? Now try meeting
regularly with nonbelievers over a meal in your home or at a restaurant. Each
month I eat out with three non-Christians I met in the writers group, not
because I love Chinese food, but because the meal opens another exit from the
Jesus felt free to dine with sinners, because He was interested in them. In
the relaxed atmosphere of a meal, you too can get to know nonbelievers as real
people with problems and concerns. Stronger bonds of communication and
friendship earn you the right to be heard about your faith. Tune into the
topics of conversationgrief, crisis in the home, stress on the job, evil in the
world, current eventsand offer a testimony of how God has helped you or about
His control over life. As you spend more time together, follow up with phone
calls and offer to pray for those going through rough times.
Its scary at first, but as you learn about non-Christians beliefs and find
ways to be with them, God replaces your sense of duty with a desire to share
Christ with them. Leaving the Christian ghetto is a surefire way to sprinkle
salt where youre needed most.
Sherri Langton is a writer living in
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