It’s Called “Sharing” the Gospel

“Stop forcing your beliefs on me!”

“I’m sorry?”

“You heard! Stop trying to force your Christianity on me. I don’t want to hear it!”

Have you heard a conversation snippet like the one above? I have. And all too often. Maybe you were the giver or the receiver, or maybe just a curious observer. I can tell you from experience the awkwardness surrounding such a dismissal is quite palpable.

My standard reaction when sharing my Christian faith with people who respond like that is to take the punch and move on. This has been a huge mistake, and my response going forward will be much different. One of the main reasons that I blog is to share the gospel of Christ. The internet is a great platform and I want to use it well.

Is it forcing or sharing?

First, I need to ask a question. Does sharing equal forcing? I don’t see it. The word “sharing” implies I have something good that I want to give to you. The word “forcing” implies I’m threatening you because I have something I want to take from you. The gospel of Christ is a free gift. I can’t take anything from you by sharing the gospel.

Second, it’s actually logically impossible to force somebody to believe something. At most, a person could force another person to confess a belief by threatening harm or some kind of penalty. In that situation, the person being forced might agree to the belief either to shut the person up or to avoid being harmed or penalized. That’s not real belief.

It seems then there is some kind of misunderstanding happening. I do not threaten people when I try to share the gospel with them. Forgive my outburst of alliteration, but my goal is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ clearly and creatively with courage and compassion without compromising my convictions. I’ll try an analogy.

This is a real puzzler

Think about two people working a jigsaw puzzle together. They are trying to solve the puzzle by putting all the pieces in the right spot. Do you think either person would be happy with the result if one person forced a puzzle piece into a place where it obviously doesn’t go?

When I share the truth of Christ with people, I try to show them that the Christian worldview makes the best sense out of the puzzle that is life. It would be counterproductive for me to try and force an idea into the conversation that doesn’t fit with reality.

I can no more force you to believe that Jesus is the only way to God—or any other belief—than I could force you to take my hand to lead you out of a burning building because I know the way out. It’s a cop-out. Everyone knows the difference between forcing and sharing.

There is a saying that goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” I use this saying for two reasons. First, I think it supports the idea very well that sharing is not the same as forcing. Second, the Bible describes Jesus as the “living water” in John 4:13-14.

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (English Standard Version)

What do you mean by “forcing”?

Look, it’s fine for a person to tell me he doesn’t want to discuss religion with me. I would respect that request and we could talk about something else or say our goodbyes. But from now on if a person tells me to stop forcing my beliefs on him I will simply ask, “What do you mean by ‘forcing’?” And that person will need to man up and admit he just doesn’t want to have a religious conversation.


3 thoughts on “It’s Called “Sharing” the Gospel

  1. While I agree with what you said this is only to a certain point however. I applaud your respect for the other person/people in this hypothetical conversation where you back away from the topic if they don’t want to converse in regards to it, there are situations where some may not be so respectful and to those on the otherside of that conversation it can make us feel like someone is trying to force their religion onto us even after we ask for them to stop. I’m not hating on religion, I grew up catholic, my mother and her side of the family is heavily religious and I respect that but growing up I was always told to attend church, go to catholic schools even when I express to go to a more academically sound school that would not only be more financially stable but that would help me gain more towards what I wanted for myself in the future. And even after essentially showcasing that religion isn’t my #1 priority my mother always questions whether I’m praying at night or that some of the things I do will not get me in God’s good grace or inti heaven or the bible says this and that. As someone who was never able to choose my religious identity until I was in my late teens, my mother made it feel like I was being forced to believe in a religion that I did not (and of I’m being honest still don’t at present) feel super connected to. Again I’m not hating on Christianity, or Catholicism, or Hinduism, etc, etc but when the other person doesn’t hear your opinion and beliefs and blatantly ignore you because they believe that their religion should be the loudest voice heard it can makes us feel like we’re being forced unpuysically. It kind of like arguing with someone and their only understanding yo “win” is to just speak louder and over you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Cindy,

    Thank you for your comments. This is why I do this, to start meaningful civil conversations about things that matter, even from a four-year-old blog post. 🙂

    You are right that some folks try to win people over to their worldview based almost entirely on the fact they are speaking with the loudest voice. Sadly, I’ve been among Christians who do this. Christians are called to share the truth in love, and sometimes either one or both are missing!

    My point is it’s not possible to force somebody to believe something. A person might go along with their family beliefs (whether they agree or not) to avoid pressure put on them, but isn’t that really just lip service? In my experience, beliefs are things we keep inside regardless of what we say about them.

    In retrospect, I didn’t include every possible upbringing where parents forced their children to attend schools, services, temple, etc. in the hopes of passing on their beliefs to their children. I actually had a very similar experience to what you described, albeit from a Protestant upbringing. 🙂

    From the person on this side of the computer who cares about the person on that side of the computer, I hope your day is filled with good friendships and meaningful conversation!


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